Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Love A Parade!

A Slice of American Pie

OK lets start with a rhetorical question? What could possibly be more American than a parade?

We love parades. Whether large, medium, or small parades occupy a special place in the American psyche. I sort of think our reverence for parades is a souvenir of a time when conquering heroes, returning GI's, and astronauts, would be celebrated in parades with streams of ticker tape. Parades were our way of saying "WOW!!!!" 

Of course when we think "parade" we normally think of the two mega-parades: the splendid Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena and Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Nobody matches those two.

The Tournament of Roses Parade has been an American institution since 1890 and is clearly Southern California's way of razzing the wintry denizens of all cold places. The annual trip down Colorado Boulevard now averages over 1,000,000 spectators a year.

The Rose Parade always has always been special for me because my mom loved it so much. Also because a friend's family raised many of the begonia blossoms used in its floats each year. Sadly, this year their farms near Santa Cruz closed permanently due to a fire after more than 80 years in business.

A relative newcomer, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is just 84 years old. In 1927 it became famous for including giant helium filled balloons which where released in a grand finale. As they drifted off they would burst falling all over Manhattan and creating a bit of a PR mess for parade organizers. So in 1928 the balloons were improved, designed for reuse, yet equipped with return labels (informing the finder of a reward for their return.)

Today Macy's floats are built by Manfred Bass in an old Tootsie Roll factory in Hoboken where each float is designed so that it can collapse to pass through the Holland Tunnel for parade day.

Before I pass from this realm I intend to go see each of those parades in person!

On a more local level there are literally hundreds of parades that are more intimate. Veterans Day, Columbus Day, St. Patrick's day, and the Fourth of July just would not be complete without a parade! These are the parades most of us enjoy and maybe even participate in year after year.

"My Parade" is the annual Fiesta Bowl Parade in central Phoenix. Since moving to Phoenix 16 years ago I have enjoyed this parade almost every year. Of course I'm spoiled since I live close by and can walk to it. 

Now almost 40 years old, it is Arizona's largest single-day event attracting nearly 200,000 spectators. Rated as one of America's top 6 parades by USA Today, it is now presented by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. 

A neighborhood tradition for residents of North Central is to put the kids in PJ's, hoist them to your shoulder and walk to Central and Bethany Home Road around 10 PM the night before the parade. There you can watch the staging of the floats and see them adding all the finishing touches. 

The parade route has had to change to accommodate our marvelous new light rail. So it now starts on Central then makes a jog over to 7th Street.

The reason I like this parade so much is because it features so many great high school bands. You can just see how delighted the kids are to get a chance to travel to Arizona in January. It also has a sense of humor. 

Lots of Floats

The Geeks

The Balloons 
(Being Spinned)

The Clydesdales

Expect more than the magnificent Clydesdales. There will likely be the last remaining WWII Navajo Code Talkers, some geeks in Star Wars and Ghostbuster's outfits, Shriners in little cars, even some stilt walkers. Silly string is used in profusion. And, of course, there will be the Sun City Poms (use your imagination...) and the Wild Women of the West on horseback!

Each year we also get to see what new item of military hardware Sheriff Joe will sit on as he gets both cheered and jeered along the parade route.

So Dec. 31 at 11 AM you know where Roadboy will be. I'll be at Montebello and Central watching the parade with a whole bunch of my fellow Phoenicians and their seasonal guests!

Come see it! Oh, and don't forget a good hat and some sunscreen - cause New Year's Day in Arizona is almost always perfect!

Post Parade Update:
This years parade was better than ever. It was unseasonably cold though. Sheriff Joe rode atop his tank. Oklahoma University sent their splendid marching band. First time I can remember no Bud Clydesdale's! 

Here's a couple of shots from 2010.

Mariachi's and Colorful Ballet Folklorico

Typical Float

Roadboy's Travels © 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A New Year Shapes up for Roadboy

The 38th Festival International de la Bande Dessinee!
(With Mid-winter visits to Paris, Amsterdam, and Brugge Thrown in For Good Measure!)

So what sort of fool goes to Paris in January? 

Good old Roadboy thats who.

Yes, in the true spirit of contrarian travel, Miss M and I are breaking out the cold weather clothes (which is painful for Phoenicians) and heading to Europe.

So what is in store for us? 

Well in January:
1. It is real cold in Paris, Amsterdam and Brugge.
2. But, lines are short in Paris and Amsterdam's world class museums. Heck, we might even be able to stand directly in front of the Mona Lisa without being shoved.
3. It is annual sale time at Paris' famous department stores (sales in France happen only twice a year and are government controlled.) Scarves anyone?
4. You can enjoy hot chocolate in the country made famous by chocolate - Belgium!
5. When the canals freeze in Amsterdam, people ice skate on them!
6. You don't have to worry about broken AC units in your hotel room.
7. Street cafes put out heaters!
8. It is time for the annual International Comics Festival in Angouleme.

OK, so you may be asking "what the heck is the Festival de la Bande Dessinee?" I asked that question when Miss M said she would like to attend it.

I now know that it is the oldest and largest festival of comic book art in Europe. It is to Europe what San Diego's ComicCon is to the US.

The difference? 

Well comic book art is considered serious art in France and the Festival is a very serious event. 

In San Diego people (usually seriously fat) dress up like characters out of star wars. Usually exposing too much skin in all the wrong places.

In France, they don't.

I'm good with that.

So, I believe the proper question to ask should be: "What sort of fool goes to Paris in hot and crowded August?" 

Roadboy's Travels © 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Time for Miracles

Chilly Nights, Bright Lights and Timeless Expressions of Love

Roadboy is about two thirds the way through an extended trip. The first part of my journey was Chicagoland. Brrrrrrr! 

Now I find myself in lovely Richmond Virginia. Yes, I've gotten to explore some new restaurants - more about that later.

Next week I finish up in Northern VA.

Traveling this time of year is both a burden and a joy. Yes, it gets crowded. Yes, we have to de-ice planes. Yes, we all have to wear a ton of clothes. But, in my heart of hearts, I know it is all worth it. 

You see, I happen to love Christmas. 

Oh, The lights!

I love the lights. I love the music (although I could live without ever hearing that barking dogs thing again.) I love the smells (especially the bubbling of Miss M's holiday caramels!) I love the dazzling profusion of reds and greens. 

But, most of all, I cherish how this season brings families (no matter how you define that word) together.

The hotels I have visited this trip have all been full of multi-generational guests, not just the usual road warriors.  This morning as I emerged from my room a lovely "grandma talks with her 2-year old grandaughter" moment was happening in the hallway. It was a scene of tenderness traveling in two directions. It brought it all home.

You see Christmas is not about gifts (really, I'm fine with another pig, duck, or musk ox in my name from Heifer International). It is the celebration of the miracle of God's amazing gift to humanity.

I can live with that. 

Slow down, remember to tell those around you that you love them, and enjoy the season of Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Roadboy!

Roadboy's Travel's © 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What I've Been Up To

 Great Clients = Great Buildings!

As many of you know Roadboy's architectural practice is limited to very specialized projects; specifically architecture for public safety, labs, bio-labs, and architecture for the forensic sciences. This allows us to meet some very amazing, dedicated, wonderful and special people. 

And allows me to Travel!

This week we dedicated another new police facility for the Town of Parker Colorado. The project has been a long time in the works. My tenure with it has spanned three Town Administrators and two Chief's of police. Yet, everyone I've come in contact with has had a passion to build a fine and practical building the Town could be proud of.

I think they did it!

Some photos of the new facility.

Main Entry

Staff Main Street

911 Console

Forensic Examination Garage

Staff Photos

Thanks Parker! Enjoy your wonderful new police station!

All the best from Roadboy!

Roadboy's Travels © 2010