Column: I love a parade - and the ones on Turkey Day have been wonderful
By Ray Crippen WORTHINGTON -- Oh sure I remember. No question. Hands down. Greatest ever. You feel sometimes as though you are facing a police interrogation. Questions coming faster than you can answer them: Do you remember great things from Turk...
By Ray Crippen
WORTHINGTON - Oh sure I remember.
No question. Hands down. Greatest ever.
You feel sometimes as though you are facing a police interrogation. Questions coming faster than you can answer them:
Do you remember great things from Turkey Day parades gone by? Is there something that stands out? What do you think was the greatest thing you saw? Was there one memorable moment?
The greatest thing - the top memory - was the first thing that appeared in the first Turkey Day parade ever. When was that? Seventy-four parades gone by.
The first thing that appeared in the first great pageant (then as now) was the great flock of turkeys marching along main street. No one had ever seen anything like it. Those were black turkeys. Broad-breasted bronze. Because Worthington was (maybe) the world’s authentic turkey capital, there were many more birds in the march at that time. Let me tell you, kids squealed. Some adults just howled. The little dog laughed to see such a sight. Turkeys on parade!
You can still get a taste of the wonder that was felt on that first day. You see the reaction in an exchange student watching a Turkey Day parade for the first time, or a visitor from another part of the country. You may remember it in yourself from a time when you were 4 years old, 5 years old, first aware of the world around you. “Look! Look! Turkeys!”
The turkeys stirred a lot of excitement, even in far-away places. Benny Palmer built a cart and hitched a team of two turkeys to it. He had a pair of stuffed jeans with boots hanging over the front. In truth, Benny had his feet on the ground. He was providing the manpower, but it appeared for all the world that the team of turkeys was pulling Benny down main street. That was a sensation. Well - a picture of Benny and his turkey team appeared in Life magazine.
There was another year - maybe two years - when the Turkey Day parade committee arranged to bring inflatable characters from New York City’s (Macy’s) Thanksgiving Day parade to Worthington. Those are giant figures. They stand out in the skyscraper canyons, and they certainly stood out floating over 10th Street higher than any building along the way.
Parades in the early decades - most parades everywhere - featured floats. By now, floats nearly need an explanation. Commercial floats are frameworks beautifully decorated with flowers, tinsel, bright-colored paper. The prettiest girls in town. Worthington businesses became float sponsors. There were as many as two dozen of the eye-catching, professional floats in Worthington’s pageant.
Bands. Band after band. It may be true that high school bands today are even better than bands of yore, but the bands of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s impressed onlookers. They often marched in a phalanx - 50 or 60 students in a solid, formidable formation - and they played the music of John Philip Sousa.
You hear it every year, and it is so: people make a parade. That’s a fact. An impression: there never was a Worthington High School class with more camaraderie, more reunions than the Class of ’49. The Class of ’49 became a parade fixture riding on a flat-bed truck or a trailer behind a tractor with Henry Pfeil at the wheel.
LaVonne Lillie’s beautiful, gleaming red convertible is another enduring Turkey Day parade memory. LaVonne provided the transportation for the succession of Turkey Day speakers, and (a marvel) she got the autograph of each speaker on the car’s white upholstery. Front seat.
Announce a parade and you will have marchers. It’s that simple. There will be Cub Scout troops ready to march and vintage cars ready to roll. Still, a great parade takes not just work but a great deal of work. Give Turkey Day parade organizers mighty credit for that. And maybe give them a challenge. Maybe arrange for a space vehicle on Worthington’s main street. Or a tiger in a cage. Maybe the Duck Dynasty cast or Larry the Cable Guy. But no matter -
A new Turkey Day parade is set to roll and it will, among other things, roll into memories. There is nothing just like it.
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.