Parade Food

You gotta love a small town.  It’s the Christmas season and we celebrate starting with the annual Christmas Parade.  At least 50% of the town comes out to see the parade, another 50% are involved in the parade and then there’s the 5% Grinch factor.  Those are the folks who immediately write the editor of the local paper complaining that their important trip to the grocery store for milk was delayed by the parade that no one told them about in advance; even though it’s been an annual tradition for over 50 years.  If that doesn’t work they’ll be at the next council meeting to complain that the parade is illegal and deprives them of some perceived rights.  Boo! Hiss! on that 5% – the rest of us have some rights too and apparently those rights include screaming Merry Christmas at the top of our lungs and waving madly at people we know and many we don’t know.

When I was a child I didn’t realize there was Parade Food.  I also thought only beauty queens rode on floats.  I have since learned differently; even I can ride on a float.  All I have to do to be part of the melee is to smile and wave while keeping 20 youngsters from jumping or falling off the moving vehicle.

Parade Food is not just one food, it’s a succession of treats.  The early birds bring the first food, tall cups of coffee or a thermos filled with coffee.  They also have folding chairs; they’re going to get their usual spot along the route.  An hour or so after the first group is settled in, the next shift show up with bags, some of the bags left over from Halloween because that’s what parade food really is – Halloween in reverse.  With Parade Food the people in costume pass out candy and other treats.  All a person has to do is smile, hold out a bag and some elf, snowman or caroler will drop candy in it.  Granted there’s not much chocolate, an occasional wrapped Santa, but free candy is good candy as far as I’m concerned.

Later – as the floats shed their festive wrappings and the bands store their instruments it’s time to head out for a late lunch.  Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church youth groups, insurance agents, the Shriners, Lions Club members, National Guard and all the beauty queens converge on the local restaurants.  From LongHorn Steaks and Applebees to McDonalds and Taco Bell it’s a happy crowd.

That should be the end of the Parade Food story but we’re not done though. Here in smalltown Georgia  after all have recovered from the parade and night falls it’s time to held out once again.  A local park is so draped in lights there are fairy’s abandoning their lands to move here.  Carolers, free hot dogs, cider, hot chocolate, popcorn and even a roaring fire with all the makings for s’mores provided.

My day of Parade Food 2011 may be over but it can mean only one thing–Christmas is here in the South.

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