I have always had a distorted view of tradition. When I was young, I decided that everything I liked was a tradition in hopes that it would regularly happen for the rest of my life. When my family spontaneously went to Seven Peaks water park on one of our bi-yearly trips to Utah, I conveniently decided it was a tradition. Boy was I disappointed on our next trip when I was the only one that packed my swimming trunks and the only one that shed tears in mourning over our lost tradition.
I have come to realize that I fit right in here in Portland. Someone planted a huge rose garden and named Portland the rose city. Somebody else decided that every city needs a festival. As luck would have it, our extremely large and proud neighbors to the south also decided they couldn’t live without a rose festival. In a pathetic cry for attention, Portland made it a tradition to have not one, but two parades to celebrate its rose festival. My guess is that somebody tried it once and some naïve little kid with a suitcase full of swimming trunks and expectations decided to keep it going.
Last Saturday was Portland’s Starlight Parade: the perfect example of a tradition that never should have been. For some reason, I went with low expectations and for some reason, things started working out. Little by little, I let my guard down. By the time we miraculously found a front row spot to spread our blankets, I was once again that 8 year old boy in bright red swimming trunks grateful for frivolous traditions that were never meant to be. Following are the highlights of this experience.
With my new found optimism, I was not going to let the white trash family sitting next to me rain on my parade. As they slowly crept farther onto my blanket, I tried to pretend they weren’t there. I let them have the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they didn’t notice their dirty children jumping over me to get to the street. Maybe they thought of me as part of the family. Then I turned around to see what I was slowly kicking back onto their blanket. Imagine my face expression when I see a small cage with little claws reaching for freedom. Who brings their ferrets to a parade? As the manly woman took her precious out of its cage and started kissing it I literally saw my dad standing over me saying “Son, just because we did it once doesn’t make it a tradition.” I instantly wished I had learned from the past. I wished I was miles away from the personal space invading family with their urine soaked ferrets.
A staple of low budget parades is the high school marching band. Following each marching band is a small group of devoted parents pulling wagons of water. I posted a video of what I thought was an over excited father who had too much to drink. After he danced alongside four different marching bands, I realized he was a simple spectator that had finally found his place in life: dancing down the street waving a glowing baton.