Posts Tagged ‘festival’

As we took in the exhibits and demonstrations for the SEWE Saturday at Marion Square, I couldn’t help but continuously think of a solitary phrase: “What a difference a year makes.”

A year ago from Saturday, Suzanne and I were standing at the bottom of her entry staircase on Wentworth Street, the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics paused on DVR, as we marveled at a winter wonderland developing outside.  Downtown Charleston was blanketed in 1-2 inches of snowfall in one of those strange scenes you sometimes see at local restaurants that depict such an event occurring in like 1935.  The organizers of SEWE had a little bit of reorganization to contend with, not to mention a few jittery hours of attempting to project how much the cold temperatures would affect attendance.

This Saturday, the sun shone brightly, creating a near-80 degree picture of perfection for throngs of wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts to absorb the products and messages of vendors, interest groups, and magazines enveloped in what basically constituted a zoo considering how many different types of animals were gracing the square.

Speaking of animals, a year ago we stood over a pen at the Grateful Golden’s post, gazing happily and, truth be told, warily, over the…lab…puppies that were crawling around therein.  For some reason, the volunteer organization didn’t have golden retrievers the day we went but the effect was still the same, as we were a mere two weeks from adopting Finley.  I remember feeling particularly antsy that day, carefully observing the behaviors of all the dogs and their owner men/women as they traversed the crowds amidst the intense amount of stimuli that threatened to wrest the dogs from their grasp at any moment.  I was doing my homework.

This Sunday, we took our own wresting dog on an exhibition for attendees to do their homework on how NOT to control your dog in a crazy situation.  To her credit, she’s been worse–way worse.  To our credit, well, we get no credit, besides maybe sympathy points for putting on a free clinic/comedy hour.  She wasn’t the worst behaved hound in the place by a long shot though and even if she was exuberant, it was only in the name of getting an up-close and personal look at the golden/lab mix puppies gracing the large enclosed tent.

She was doing her own mentoring.



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What I would do to wake up to this view each morning…on this porch…in this house…ok, stopping before I depress myself. Images like this are the reason my first trip to Biltmore left me feeling both exhilaratingly inspired and extremely poverty-ridden. I had never felt so poor in my life.

We’ll be taking in all that the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition has to offer this weekend, particularly the Dock Dogs competition at Brittlebank Park.  Get out and enjoy a very spring-ish weekend, Charleston!

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To be honest, parades have always confused me, or at least, rather, the organization of a parade befuddles me.  By no real volition of my own free will, I tend to place parades, especially annual Christmas parades, upon some weird pedestal of expectation and reverence to the assemblage of the participants.  Every year I do this.  And every year, I have to be reminded that, in actuality, there’s a lot less that goes into the average municipal holiday stroll down a main street than I anticipate.  That’s the definition of insanity, right?

Truth be told, there appears to be very little to qualify an individual or group for inclusion in these things.  If you can move your body or have something else move your body, you can participate.  You don’t need fancy signage, decorations, or blaring music.  A bent up poster board and a magic marker will suffice.  Proofreading on these signs is optional (we spied one “Chritmas” and one “Mery” upon only casual attention to detail).

But all of that is perfectly ok in my book. Its the accessibility of entry that makes the Charleston Christmas Parade such a fun event to attend each year and lends itself towards some degree of gloriously bizarre randomness.  This year’s version certainly did not disappoint.  Some quick observations:

-As is tradition, Mayor Joe Riley closely followed the opening marching band down King Street.  The Mayor’s form of participation in the parade always kind of cracks me up.  He walks alone, for one thing.  The New Urbanist-civic leader practices what he preaches;  no vehicle for this gentleman. He also frantically waves to nearly every single person in the audience, exclaiming a ten-thousand and one enunciations of “Merry Christmas” and proceeds on his own merry way. There is something about it that I am having a hard time pinpointing that makes me think the whole thing is very odd but it’s something I always look forward to.  I like to ponder, I guess.

-Viewing the Mayor signifies the impending arrival of, in many people’s collective opinion, the highlight of the entire parade:  the Carolina Basset Hound Rescue volunteers leading their furry friends.  There are always dozens of hounds in this group, some walking briskly along, their droopy ears nearly dragging the pavement, while others ride in decorated Red Rider wagons or upon floats. These guys pretty much stop everyone in their tracks briefly and elicit one of two visible facial expressions from literally every person in the audience:  a broad smile or a puffed out lip, normally reserved for those older or injured bassets who are along for the ride in the floats.  Either way, the audience always seems to want more.

-There are a lot of vehicles around the Holy City that appear to be an inch away from explosion.  Many of these vehicles participated in the parade.

-There are also a lot of vintage fire vehicles around the Holy City.  Each were decorated to the nines and comprised some of the most ‘quality’ looking apparatuses in the procession.  Whether they were equipped to handle potential circumstances involving the vehicles that appeared on the verge of destruction is unclear.

-There is a Beard and Mustache Championship this year.

-Clowns.  Lots of clowns.  I still hate clowns.

-Some of the Overlook Hotel’s former guests in The Shining were somehow able to enter despite being dressed in literally the most horrifyingly weird costumes I have possibly ever seen.  The effect on the audience was the polar opposite of the basset hounds.  I saw a kid crying.  Heck, I cried.

-Finally, as if we didn’t need any other reason to despise large banking institutions these days, a lavishly tapestried Wells Fargo carriage, pulled by handsome mares and filled with non-Santa passengers, completely showed up the Big Man himself in terms of presentation.  To be fair to Wells Fargo, it wasn’t extremely difficult to best Santa’s ride this year.  Many of the near-exploding vehicles mentioned earlier probably outdid him.

Santa rolled up in a sleigh pulled by nine rigor mortised reindeer that appear to have been constructed at the same time and location as the Hindenburg.  A few kids around us gasped in confusion (or horror, not sure).  The effect was somewhat deflating, extremely comical, and, upon reflection afterwards, a perfect summation of the parade as a whole.  I wouldn’t have wanted some extravagant sleigh.  This one seemed to fit the bill completely.  Great job by the organizers, participants, and jalopies for making this year’s Christmas Parade at least as entertaining as years past.

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