It's the New Year. Rejoice! You've made it to '09 and deserve a reward. Each of you have an opportunity to enjoy, what I consider to be, Tulsa's finest parade, but you can't wait until Valentine's Day or spring to decide if it's your thing.
You have the weekend.
Monday's a national holiday. Thus, you have until Monday.
It's the day we rightly honor one of the greatest unifiers in American history. A man who, at age 39, was ripped from the nation's arms far too soon. A man all Americans should proudly celebrate- Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.
2008's parade drew more than 10,000 people and featured more than 250 float entries. You don't need me to tell you they're impressive numbers, but if you left the comfort of your recliner and stepped outside on January 21, 2008, you know the parade itself was more than just impressive. It was fun, lively, and not really a day you'd care to spend outside. It was cold and rainy and windy.
It was the kind of day that could elicit the response: "So, this is what frostbite feels like!" That may not sound appealing to some, but during the MLK, Jr. Parade, comfort came in many forms: marching bands, free candy, smiling, dancing, and knowing that others were much colder than me. I wore gloves. Let's all collectively wish against that type of onerous behavior from Mother Nature this year.
The theme for the parade was "Dr. King's Dream: Wake Up! Work it Out!" I was reminded of the theme throughout the morning by the many floats displaying it and by the man on the other side of the street who was shortening it to simply "work it out" in a successful attempt to motivate parade participants. It seemed that all it took for the marching bands, dance studios, and corporate floats to take their performance to the next level was this man's smiling face and playful calls to "Work it out, girl. Work it out!" It was a celebration of appreciation and remembrance that I was glad to be a part of.
When the Hornets Go Marching In
Prior to last year's holiday parades, my girlfriend Cristi had been singing the praises of the Booker T. Washington marching band.
Observing the band's performances was something she and her mother always enjoyed.
As a result, all the hype was directed to Booker T.
"Oh, Isaac, just wait 'til you see Booker T."
I waited. No Booker T.
"What! Is that the end of the parade? Where was Booker T.?" Cristi questioned. We all realized that either we took a very long, simultaneous blink when Booker T. Washington's marching band passed us, or the school wasn't in the Christmas parade. I wasn't overly upset, because I had enjoyed the other marching bands, but I was a little disappointed. Every six minutes I had been giving my pinky toes a pep talk, "Hang on down there, little guys. Booker T. will get here soon. If they're as good as they sound I may reward you with a little hop. A thank you for all you do for me. Hang on!"
Sadly, I didn't do any hopping or dancing. I did some huddling and because of it I still have all ten toes. This is when I learned if you plan on going to an outdoor activity it makes sense to have a decent idea what the weather will be like. It was a lesson that I first applied this time last year at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
As 2009's MLK, Jr. holiday approaches, I've detected an optimistic air surrounding Cristi. I could not identify it last year, but now I know what it is. I learned of it last January. It was the renewed possibility of seeing Booker T. Washington's marching band perform. Surely Booker T. would be present for this parade (the '08 MLK parade), I thought. They're not the type of marching band to miss two parades. Anybody knows that.
January 21, 2008, came and Cristi and I made our way to the parade. She had not been to the Greenwood district in some time.
"Oh Isaac, just wait 'til you see Booker T." I waited. "Do you think we missed 'em?" I had no idea, so I replied, "No, I'm sure they're coming right up. Look. Down there. Looks like a lot of action heading our way."
I was right, although I had no idea. Booker T. Washington's marching band was rousing. "Work it out," the man on the opposite side of the street directed. The band obliged. I laughed as the sleet began to fall.
The Booker T. Washington marching band was one of the refulgent participants in the parade, but I don't know if I would say they were the best. The parade offered rich diversity in a joyous atmosphere. Although, truth be told, I expected a greater representation of onlookers from areas outside of the Greenwood and north Tulsa communities.
We, as a society, benefit from diversity in our interactions. I hope in 2009, even more people will attend the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade, as it offers the opportunity to bond with fellow Tulsans.
Last year as the parade concluded, Cristi and I gathered our sweet, free parade wares for the trek back to the car. While anticipating the warm embrace of the car's heater we agreed that we would return for Monday, January 19's, 2009, parade, beginning at Pine and Greenwood.
"I'm glad we came," one of us said in '08. The last float we had the pleasure of observing that morning was occupied by a young boy, no older than twelve. He stood some five feet from the ground on a moving platform with a podium and microphone in front of him. The last thing I heard him say was, "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed..."
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