Saturday, November 24, 2018

Christmas On Parade

Kicked off a cloudy morning with a few of the classic holiday Disney shorts featured on A Walt Disney Christmas, a cartoon collection I dubbed off an old clamshell video a few years ago. "Once Upon a Wintertime" is the romantic tale of two young Victorian lovers and two bunnies and their adventures while out skating. "Santa's Workshop" shows Old Saint Nick and his elf helpers building toys and checking lists twice as they prepare for that big Christmas Eve ride.

Headed out quickly around quarter of 10. I got to Collingswood just in time. I no sooner stepped onto the curb by the Collingswood City Hall between two families than the first police cars began to make their way down the street.

The Collingswood Christmas Parade is the biggest in the area. Many local schools and businesses take part in the festivities. I saw at least three Grinch-themed floats, including from Good Shepard, Collingswood's Catholic elementary school. (Makes sense, with the new movie out.) Several local small businesses banded together with a float based around the movie Elf. Parkview Apartments had a Disney theme, with an oddly costumed Mickey, Minnie, and Daisy waving to the crowds. (I suspect that one was in honor of Mickey's 90th birthday this month.)

There were four string bands, one of which was an Irish society in green kilts. There was also an Irish step group, along with two other local dance groups, one from Haddonfield and Ovations on West Clinton Avenue in Oaklyn. Two stilt walkers, an elf and a toy soldier, juggled and gave high-fives to the kids in the crowd. Another elementary school had a snow theme; two more had kids riding bikes and scooters decorated with ribbons and tinsel. A pair of present-shaped floats at either end of the parade helpfully blew out fake snow. At least four groups of mummers strutted down the street. One group had a pirate theme; another was dressed as rag dolls, including a male Raggedy Ann (with a thin beard and mustache).

The local animal shelter lead dogs wearing Christmas sweaters and plaid bandannas and collars. One big bulldog decided he wanted to sit down, right in the middle of Haddon Avenue! It took two handlers five minutes of gentle pushing to get him moving again.

Most of the area high schools sent their marching bands. Cherry Hill West's flag guard had flags with a nifty sunburst design and did a lively dance just a few blocks away from us. Collingswood's team was the first I'd ever seen to have two male flag dancers. I was just glad that it was neither very windy, nor as cold as it has been the past few days. The kids had far fewer problems than usual with their flag routines.

The lively group of kids next to me especially loved the costumed characters. They begged for Spider Man to give them high-fives and tried to get the Phillies Phanatic's attention. They were delighted to get hugs from a gingerbread man, two penguins, Doc McStuffins, Rudolph, and Frosty the Snowman. They were so energetic, the leader of the one of the mummers groups invited them to dance for the crowd with him! They were so funny! They really got into it, strutting along with him and the music.

I was hoping to eat in Collingswood after the parade ended, but almost every restaurant in town was packed to capacity. I decided I'd move down Haddon Avenue to check out that Winter Market for lunch. The restaurants weren't the only places that were busy. Every road in town was flooded with families trying to get home or get to where they were going. I finally took a back road behind Haddon to Cuthbert and crossed as quickly as I could to Westmont.

My plans received their first check here. There was no one setting up at the grassy area next to the Westmont Theater Planet Fitness building. Turns out that they got worried about the rain we were supposed to have in the afternoon and postponed it until tomorrow. Darn it. Oh well. I ended up eating lunch at Franco's Place. They were crazy-busy with families looking for a hot fried panzarotti on a chilly, blah day. I ordered mine with broccoli and spinach to go along with the cheese. It wasn't bad, but the fried shell was messy, and maybe a bit too heavy.

I made up for missing the Winter Market with a peek at Phidelity Records across the street. Today was Small Business Saturday. The shops on Haddon Avenue were apparently having big sales and giving out free snacks. I munched on a donut with green and red frosting while going through his dollar record sales. I found four cubicles with nothing but dollar soundtracks and cast albums. Score! I came up with the 1983 Broadway revival of the Rogers and Hart show On Your Toes, the 1977 off-Broadway cast of the revue Starting Here, Starting Now, and the original Broadway casts of The Roar of Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd and the 1953 stage Peter Pan with Mary Martin.

My best find came from my own childhood. Disney's Buena Vista Records released albums for characters other than their own from the 60's through the 80's. They apparently put out two Rainbow Brite LPs in the mid-80's, a Christmas-themed one and Paint a Rainbow In Your Heart. I found the latter on the dollar soundtrack shelves. Surprisingly, considering how much we all loved Rainbow Brite, we never did find either of the albums or any of the books and records in the 1980s.

Stopped at The House of Fun to start my Christmas shopping when I got into Oaklyn. I didn't find anything for Amanda, but I did pick up a Playstation game for Lauren. Found three nifty Force Awakens tumblers in the dollar bin for myself.

It was just starting to shower as I rode home. I went to the bathroom, then grabbed my laundry and headed back out. I really couldn't put it off anymore...but maybe I should have. The laundromat was packed when I arrived around 3:30. I barely got a washer and a dryer. I worked on story notes and half-watched skiing on TV. Good thing I didn't really have a big load. I ended up having to hang up quite a few things to dry again anyway when they got wet on the way back.

The rain had begun to pick up as I was riding home. It poured for the rest of the night. I cheered myself up with the Rainbow Brite album. Surprisingly, unlike the somewhat similar Care Bears record I have, some of the songs here are really quite good. I especially liked the upbeat title number and "Starlite, Starbright" about Rainbow's talking horse.

Worked on my story for the next few hours. Padme argues with Anakin, giving him the carved pendant he once gave her and insisting that he's no longer the man he married. That's when Ben appears. Angry that Padme seems to have betrayed him, he hits her. This was not an especially smart thing to do. Turns out that Padme is already in labor; her being abused didn't help her condition. She does manage to give birth to two healthy children, but it takes too much of a toll on her body. She dies by her husband's side. Anakin will barely touch tiny Luke and refuses to even look at Leia. The elder Anakin finally insists on being sent back...which he does, but not after remembering his dearly beloved Padme and the pendant he once gave her.

I got so into writing, I didn't break for dinner until 7:30. Had a really fast yogurt and fruit meal while watching the remaining Disney holiday shorts. "The Night Before Christmas" is the second Santa Silly Symphony, this time showing how Santa delivers toys and a tree at one special house. "On Ice" shows what the Disney gang does while skating, from Mickey showing off for Minnie to Goofy ice fishing to Donald picking on Pluto. Donald also has winter-related problems in "Donald's Snow Fight." He and his nephews end up in a wild snow war after they destroy each other's snowmen, but the end result may leave Donald with that sinking feeling. The most famous of the Disney holiday shorts is probably "Pluto's Christmas Tree." Pluto tries to chase Chip and Dale out of the branches of his and Mickey's tree, but they end up destroying it instead.

Moved on to the Laurel & Hardy March of the Wooden Soldiers after dinner, which I cover in more detail at my Musical Dreams Reviews Blog:

March of the Wooden Soldiers (Babes In Toyland)

Finished the night with a couple of shorts that come with the public domain Wooden Soldiers DVD. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is the original Technicolor Max Fleischer short from 1949. Here, Rudy's just a normal baby reindeer who happens to have a big red that Santa needs on a certain foggy Christmas night. "Christmas Shop" starts out in live-action, with a mom and dad shooing their kids to bed. The kids eventually dream of Santa at the North Pole and toys coming to life.

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