Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Preemptive Strike Post

Hello A & A fans! Alert reader Guy has pointed out that I am falling behind on my posts. Have no fear, I've got plenty of annoyances left to regale you with. This time I'm hoping to head one off at the pass. It has to do with parades, and maybe if I get it off my chest now, it can prevent what is sure to rear its ugly head at my town's big parade this weekend. I can only dream that such is the power of A & A.

What's the problem with parades you ask? Well I'm glad you did. The problem is with the parents of high school marching bands. Or I should say the parents of members of high school marching bands. I have noticed a disturbing trend the last few times I attended a parade (which admittedly has been a few years now, so maybe somebody has fixed this problem - this weekend will be the test). This trend is new since my marching band days in the late 70's and early 80's.

The parents of the big American marching bands (which I quite enjoy watching) now walk alongside the band as it makes its way along the parade route. They walk between the band and the spectators. This not only blocks your view as a spectator at times, but completely detracts from the aesthetic quality of the band. And why are these parents there? Apparently to dole out water and mist the band members.

I admit it took some searching to find an example on Youtube, but here it is. Check out from 1:00 to about 1:40.

Now I know in this day and age everyone believes that hydration is important, but this is Canada in May. It is rarely hot, and even if it is, the parade route is not that long. For my American friends you can expect the temperature to be in the 70's if you are lucky and once in awhile it might make it to the 80's. Not exactly scorching and the route is a mere 1.8 miles. If these kids can't make it 1.8 miles without being spritzed and fed water bottles then something is wrong.

Before all you kidney stone victims write in to correct me about the pratfalls of dehydration, I offer the following compromise. If there really is danger to these kids and they need this kind of support, then how about the parents walk along behind the crowd and emerge at strategic points to disperse their life saving H2O.

I have one marching band anecdote from my days in high school. We were in the local parade and our drummer (who sets the pace) had to get to a tennis tournament. We were the first entry in the parade and he just had us bombing along. About halfway through the parade the marshall made us stop. We looked back and the military marching group after us were right behind us, but after that there as a gap that you couldn't see the end of as the rest of the parade was more than two blocks back and around a corner. We waited five minutes for the parade to catch up.


  1. Paul "if you want to be in a parade put the hours in practicing an insturment" mclellanMay 19, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    That is toooo funnny. The first thing that came to my mind was "Where will this lead to? " Can you imagine seeing the Rolling Stones on tour with their parents sitting in chairs on the stage beside each of their sons with water bottles in their hands which screams of "If I can't be noticed for my own crappy talents I will ride on the coat tails of my children's fame and this bottle in my hand validates my reason for sharing the spotlight!!)

  2. I have never seen this phenomenon before. But before I watched the video (great sound, by the way), I was expecting a hundred or so parents walking along obstructing the view, judging from your comments. What did we see? Three? Four? Not a problem, says I.

  3. Paul has touched on part of the issue--stage parenting run duck amuck. But it is also evidence of the sort of babying/overprotectiveness that runs rampant in our society. By the time kids are in high school, surely they can take care of their bodily needs. We're not sending them up Everest, after all. And were there scores of dehydration victims back in the day before 'rents accompanied their chillun on the parade route? I must have missed that.

    It's akin to the principal at an elementary school in Ottawa who banned all forms of ball play on school grounds because it was potentially hazardous, thereby breeding lethardy and potentially obesity and ultimately diabetes (okay, okay, so I overstate my case to make a point).

    But damn, at some point you have to wonder if we're not overprotecting our children to death.

  4. I’m going to take the opposite side to this story. Not because I have children in marching band, but because I was once a member of an international Super-Star touring marching band.

    Could these people walking along the side of the band be bored chaperones for these school aged kids? Maybe it’s the kids that mentioned that they were hot in those uniforms and that they would appreciate someone carrying a water bottle. The volunteers / helpers ( I don’t think that the 2 guys in the video were actually concerned parents..)therefore offered to carry the water bottles along the parade route.

    The solution to JS's annoyance: make them wear matching uniforms and march in step with the band. That would make them part of the show. Heck, if it’s that hot out, they could carry water cannons and spray the spectator’s too!

    Just my 2 cents.

  5. I had no idea that these strange new developments were taking place in the parade world. For those curious enough to watch the entire vid, the hydration efforts ramp up even more at the 2:20 - 2:40 mark. At one point (spoiler alert!), a guy is wheeling an entire cooler full of bottled water.

    This is insane! Who are these people? They look more like marching band groupies than parents to me. I had no idea that this was a Thing now.

    Why, just last weekend, I happened upon the Shriner's parade in your fair city, LJS, and the only water in sight came from a Super Soaker wielded by one of the shriners, who was perched in the trunk portion of the elephant float.

  6. Further along in the video (at the 2:40 mark as pointed out by alert reader, Lisa) you can see that there are in fact seven water toting parents and a wagon full of water. The band itself has 21 rows, so that means basically one third of the band is obstructed as it passes by.

    Maybe it's not a big deal, but it seems silly to obstruct the view at all if it isn't necessary and as I pointed out it doesn't seem necessary to have all that water. At least not here with the mild weather locally. The video was not shot locally, but it is basically what I've seen locally (although I'm not sure I've seen the wagon 'o' water before).

  7. All this can be avoided by not going to parades. Works for me. Parades are like fireworks: seen one, seen 'em all.

  8. I have lived in Victoria since 1970 and have never watched the May Long Weekend Parade here? I agree with Guy, parades are ridiculous, unlike guys who wear shorts year round! Cheers, xelA.

  9. Finally xelA and I agree! There will be peace in the Middle East!

  10. Parades remind me of the classic Dubya bungle: "Parades...fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...won't get fooled again."