Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Collingswood Christmas Parade

Started off a sunny, chilly morning with the American Top 40 re-run. Casey leaped back a decade to 1976, as pop, hard rock, soul, and the beginnings of disco rule the airwaves. Hits during the last week of November that year included "Disco Duck" by Rick Dees, "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" by Elton John, "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" by Leo Sayer, "Stand Tall" by Burton Cummings, "You are the Woman" by Firefall, "Nights are Forever" by England Dan and John Ford Cooley, "Beth" by Kiss, "Muskrat Love" by The Captain and Tenille, and "The Rubberband Man" by The Spinners. The number one song was one of Rod Stewart's most popular ballads, "Tonight's the Night."

Instead of heading straight out, I did a few things around the apartment and worked on crocheting after the show ended. Put on Frosty the Snowman as I worked. One of the most famous Rankin-Bass specials tells the story of the title snowman who comes to life thanks to a magical hat. When it starts getting warmer, he jumps on a car heading to the North Pole, joined by a little girl and a magician's rabbit. The rabbit's owner is a rather bumbling magician who wants Frosty's hat back, so he can actually perform magic.

Rankin-Bass would return to this well twice more, and there was an unrelated Frosty story in the early 90s that actually wasn't bad, but this is really the only Frosty you need. Like Rudolph, it's easy to find - it can be downloaded online and has been re-released on DVD every year for over a decade, first by Sony Wonder, then by Classic Media, and now by Dreamworks. I think it turns up on the networks, too.

I left for Collingswood around quarter of 10. I got there just in time. I parked my bike at the rack behind the Senior Center, then went across the street and parked myself in front of the Lumberyard Condos, between two families with little girls. The Collingswood Christmas Parade is the biggest holiday event in the eastern Camden County area. There's classic cars, motorcycle stunts, dancers from Ovations and the Ritz Theater in Oaklyn, and small teams of mummers in bright-colored, feathered costumes. There were at least three long-legged jugglers, one dressed as a toy soldier. There was an organ grinder with a very cold monkey wrapped in a thick blanket that kids just loved. There were high school marching bands - my favorite was Camden High School, with their high-stepping dancers in cute purple skirts. (But what on earth was with the neon yellow jumpsuits that the Collingswood High flag team was wearing? They looked like a neon sign.) The Boy Scouts had a camping themed-float; the Girl Scouts dressed as princesses in fancy gowns and tossed candy. Every local school had a float. Many businesses didn't even bother decorating and just drove with everyone else for the advertising.

And of course, I bought my annual pretzel from Collingswood High's wrestling team. They actually got into the parade themselves this year in addition to their food sales. Toward the end of the route, the wrestlers appeared in a small blue and white bus with their team name on it, singing an off-key but enthusiastic "Feliz Navidad."

I saw almost the entire parade. At one point, I briefly went across the street to GrooveGround to order a Peppermint Mocha. I don't normally drink coffee, but I was cold, and it was something I could get quickly. The parade was just about done by that point, anyway. I spent the last 20 minutes or so watching it at a sunnier spot a few steps from WaWa. The moment Santa arrived, I left.

I made a few stops on the way home. Since I was there anyway, I hit Rite Aid for their $1.99 sale on hair bands. Mine had been around for a while and were pretty stretched out. I also picked up a buy one, get one half-price sale on Christmas tinned hot chocolate for presents for friends. My next stop was The House of Fun in Oaklyn to finish my Christmas shopping for Amanda, who's visiting on Tuesday.

When I got home, I had the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch, then washed and dusted the windows inside and out. Ran Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol while I cleaned. The very first animated network Christmas special was this Columbia adaptation of the famous Charles Dickens story, featuring everyone's favorite lovable blind-as-a-bat old guy as a surprisingly effective Scrooge. The lovely score was by Broadway composers Robert Merrill and Jules Styne, who would go on to do Funny Girl a year later. I'm not even a Magoo fan, and I enjoyed this. Originally bundled with the Rankin-Bass specials when they were owned by Sony, Classic Media hung onto this one and re-released it with more extras and on Blu-Ray in 2011.

Work actually could have been worse. It was very busy through about 6PM, after which everyone went to dinner or shopping, and business died very quickly. I spent the last two hours shelving candy between customers. It was so quiet, I was able to leave with no relief and no complaints.

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