There I was, the self-avowed parade-hater watching yet another parade. But I couldn’t resist. Stacy invited me and she’s always so busy selling houses I never get to see her. So here was my chance to have a glorious couple of hours with her.
Her email read: “I want you all to meet me at the Saturday Twilight Waimea Parade – Parade starts just after sundown. Dress for cold, you must wear one or all of the following: a winter hat, warm coat, scarf if available and bring a chair to sit in and blanket (one year we had snow atop Mauna Kea and it was COLD).”
I could definitely be prepared for any type of cold – I was a Wisconsin Winter Veteran. I finally had to get rid of the fat winter coat and insulated snow pants (actually bibs, that made me look even fatter) that I’d worn for eleven years in Racine. But I still had a long Polar-Tec sweatshirt, a down vest, warm hat, mittens, fat warm socks and snuggly warm pants, most of them in red or green to match the holiday season. So I dragged all of it out of storage and put it on. When I walked out to the car, I promptly took most of it off. It was only 4 pm and still warm down here at 1000 feet in Honoka‘a.
I certainly left early enough for a 5:30 pm parade in Waimea. What I didn’t understand is that this was the 52nd Annual Christmas Parade and it drew thousands of people. At mile marker 53, the traffic was already bumper to bumper and slow, with another four miles to get into town – a real rural traffic jam. By the time I found a parking spot in front of the loading doors at the tire shop in town, I was cranky and hot. I prayed I wouldn’t get a ticket, grabbed my sweatshirt, down vest, and hot cocoa, and eased myself through the festive crowd to find Stacy. How could it be this warm at 2500 feet at 5:30?
The thousands of attendees were wandering around, looking for friends, schoolmates, or ohana. The people who weren’t milling were holding down the fort – literally. They all seemed to have pitched a canopy to hold their spot. Everyone in Waimea has one. Those on the wet side use it to shelter themselves from the rain while barbequing, though this is usually fruitless in the sideways showers. Those on the dry side use it to shelter themselves from the sun.
I love listening to the people in Waimea. Cowboy Country is still foreign to me and this crowd was clearly cowboy-centric. I overheard one person say to another, “When did I last see you?” “At Janie’s first wedding.” “Oh yeah, she got herself a real cowboy.” “Not really. He had the hat, the boots, and the truck – that’s about it. She ditched him and got herself a real cowboy the second time around – cowboy heart and everything.” That made me want to know what a cowboy heart was. I guess I don’t listen to enough Country Music.
I found Stacy holding down a patch of turf with a blanket, a bag of goodies, and a chair. I had to step through the people in front of her, so I introduced myself as I did so. Oops, they were not part of her group. But they were friendly, so I finished my introduction and told them I was from Honoka’a.
“We are too. We live near Blaine’s Drive-In.”
“Do you have roosters coming into your yard?” I was always looking for allies in the Chicken Wars.
“Yes! We hate them. I bought a pellet gun and the pellets just bounced right off of them. They didn’t even seem perturbed.”
“By any chance did you fill out a complaint form and give it to Marsha?”
“I’m the one who collected them and took them down to Hilo!” That left all of us wide-eyed and murmuring about the small world we live in. After that we discussed the rooster stunning advantages of the Air-Hog Air Rifle that BG was considering for use in our own yard. Seems we were all in favor of anything that would rid us of the roosters.
Stacy had warned me that the parade was the height of tackiness, but in a good way. It is organized around big rigs (last year they had 50) that dress up in as many lights as they can find. Then they volunteer to pull the flatbeds decorated by the local churches, nonprofits, and clubs. The contrast between the commercial flotsam of the rig, with the religious theme of the flatbed it pulled, was often beyond funny.
The parade started right at dusk so that within 20 minutes, most of what we saw was the colored lights on the trucks. I gave a good blast on my whistle when my parish’s float went by. But I got a stern reprimand from Stacy. Man, she can be strict.
But it didn’t dim my enthusiasm for the fun. I saw Santa on two floats – he must be a Gemini – and I reminded him I had been good all year.
We shared pupus and hot drinks as we watched, but frankly, the evening seemed to be getting warmer not colder. So much for needing a hat, sweatshirt, and down vest. By the end I had stripped it all off. I really shouldn’t listen to a gal who was born on island as she’s judging cold weather.
The end of the parade was reserved for rigs that dressed up but did not have a community group to pull. These trucks had nothing to lose, so they blasted their horns all the way, about 15 in all. This included the Helco truck, which was booed as it went down the street. Despite Helco’s use of geothermal, wind, and solar power, we have the highest electric utility rates in the nation.
What I noticed from the pictures I took as the night wore on is that I need a better camera: either one with a faster shutter speed or a longer range or both. But the pictures I got were still interesting. Maybe this is what Stacy meant by ‘tacky, but in a good way.’ I especially loved the truck with the curly horns. Who knows what this was originally, and who cares?
Once the rigs passed us, we packed up and ambled back to our cars – ambling was the highest speed anyone was able to reach given the mass exodus. No parking ticket – yeah! Then off to Stacy’s. Every spot in her home had a Christmas decoration. Where does she store all this stuff for the other eleven months?
Despite the warm weather, the whole evening got me in the mood for Christmas. I feel an urge to get my advent wreath out and my tree up. But I’m going to have to re-prioritize my agenda for the next week to get that done. Life is all about choices.
For more on the Chicken War, see
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