Saturday, August 8, 2009

Life on parade

Ready to step off

Da mayor with his future CTA Director

Wouldn't you know it, the CTA saved Ethan from the long walk...

In late winter at a UIC department dinner and silent auction, one of Sig's co-worker's wives and I decided it would be a good idea to bid on 6 spots in a parade of our choice as guests of NBC channel 5. I'm glad it worked out for the Bud Billiken parade on the south side on 8/8. We found fantastic spirit and hospitality in the people we met, and were lucky to shake hands with Mayor Daley, Ron Huberman, Pat Quinn, and a few other notables who walked and floated with us near the front of the parade.

Ethan and Kola got the waving down pretty quickly, and when we started to space out as we soaked in the crowd, the smiles and waves the spectators delivered pulled us back in the groove. Although we stepped off with NBC5 and the Chicago Public Schools float, the boys were like moths to the flame when they saw the CTA mini bus riding behind us all. After about 5 blocks, the CTA group encouraged the boys to hop on and were more than happy to share their stash of snickers, grapes, and iced tea. (The first time we were encouraged to eat on a CTA bus!!) We marched from 40th to 55th along Martin Luther King Drive and as I was warmed by the crowd and welcomed by the other entrants, I thought about how different a march this could have been when I was Kola's age (1967.) It's hard for me to believe I was only two years older than Ethan when we moved from the south side.

We stayed to watch more of the parade and were treated to spectacular performances from the Jessie White tumblers, drum corps, dance teams and more. We capped it off with a zoom up to Millennium Park to reunite with friends Nancy and Rick from St. Paul, MN. We perpetuated our awe of the city with our walk through the park and lakeshore, serenaded by sound bleeds from Lollapalooza. Of note - a hot dog and a pop at the Bud Billiken parade: $1.50; a hot dog and a pop at the stand across from the north exit of Lolla: $6 (and I'll bet the hot dog at BB would be way tastier!)

I celebrated my birthday at Lollapalooza, for the fourth time ('91, '92, '08, '09.) Checking my stub from '91, the one-day admission was $27.50 with $2.50 in service charges. 18 years later, $80. But well worth the cost of admission every time. I'll spare you the review of the bands, but am happy to report I've found a few new favorites and rekindled my appreciation for my oldest favorite.

Kaiser Chiefs under glass

Our band of merry travellers

Our congested commute from one stage to the next (well, it IS chicago...)

Perry - ringleader of Jane's Addiction and Lollapalooza, backed by the infamous Dave Navarro

Searing 95+ degree heat did not seem to agitate the crowd, and every few minutes during concerts, I'd get slapped by a cold burst of water from someone swinging their water bottle over their head. The first time it happened, it felt like a burn and my heart skipped a few beats. By the time I left, the back of my clothes were soaking wet. It all went too fast and we saw a lot of great talent. I was glad to have good friends with me who proudly broadcast my b-day, got me a Jane's shirt (we earned it, dodging the mosh pit and holding our ground in the 10th "row.") I found a few "old" friends there by texting, and met a few new people, too. I believe a very good time was had by all, and with great people and band watching, it was an entertaining and enriching view of life on parade. Come to find out the next day, St. Paul friends Nancy and Rick were watching us from the 95th floor of the Hancock over chilled martinis. Got me to pause at the the good fortune I've had to witness such a panorama of Chicago views in my 46 years here. xo bb

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