I love a parade.
More to the point, I love being part of a parade.
My current parade gig is as the official announcer of the Elk Rapids Harbor Days Grande Parade. Announcing a parade is kind of like writing this column, without the opportunity to edit or tweak. Announcers show up a few minutes before the parade steps off, read through the lineup, practice the out-of-town queen names and then simply talk about what comes down the street for the next hour or so.
But my love of being part of a parade goes way back to 1982.
In 1982, my girlfriend, introduced me to David Williams; the creative genius behind the Williams Brothers National Cherry Festival parade entries.
From that date until 2001, our springtime schedules revolved around dedicating our free time to creating parade entries unlike anything that you might see in this year’s parade.
David, his brother John, and a few close friends had done a prior entry or two, but the first one that I helped with was the Weber Precision Grill Team. It had a float with queens, a marching unit, a couple of convertibles and a remarkably well choreographed team of "briquettes." But for me, it had … something else.
Everything that David allowed into the entry was hilarious and parade worthy. The float was well built, the marchers had all sorts of clever accessories and the cars were reliable. But the “something else” that grabbed my attention was the opportunity to give great names to the queens.
Queens with names like the Weiner Queen, Fran Kafurter; the Honorary Charcoal Ignitress, Gale Force Bellows; the USDA Meat Inspectress, Tricia Nosis and Miss Melmac Emeritus, Dixie Cupp deSpencer.
Walking down the street juggling hot potatoes, amid the marchers, cars, queens and briquettes was my parade role that year. But from the moment we stepped off from the parade route, my mind was hooked and I began looking forward to conjuring up names the following year.