Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How To Cook A Homecoming Parade

Miracles happen in my kitchen every time I cook, just ask my husband. And it's not about the food - but that the house didn't burn down during my efforts. Just the other morning, I put some bread under the broiler, and happened to (briefly) check my emails in the other room. Well, let's just say the dogs like their toast beyond well done.

This parade thing ended up being a miracle. Myself a newbee to the job, with a co-chair who was new as well, we managed to get it done, make it fun, and it all went off at the right time. There were a few last minute additions, deletions and some extra convertibles had to be sourced - who knew we handled flowers for the homecoming court as well? But the community came through, the City of Dallas Special Events handled all the police and permit stuff (this is a really well run department from my perspective), and kids in the neighborhood came to catch candy and wave. And our Parade Marshal? None other than Hillcrest fave dad, Kevin Sherrington, writer extraordinaire for the Dallas Morning News.

Here's the recipe, as requested by Anjelica Gonzales of the Hillcrest HS (award winning) yearbook:

1. What are the challenges of getting ready for the parade? - Probably the greatest challenge is you don't know until right before the parade how many VIP's, groups and floats will be participating. You sometimes have to beg, borrow and get creative to get everyone a ride in a convertible, but we were very fortunate to have had several cars loaned by our neighborhood community.
2. What was the most stressful part of organizing the parade? This was my first year co-chairing the parade (with Ms. Atwell), and it's no different than any new job or task you take on, the first time is always the hardest because you are learning an entirely new thing. We were very fortunate that we had the Voice of Knowledge (and former parade coordinator, Ms. Bailey) to help us through the beginning steps.
3. What are the steps of putting the Hillcrest Homecoming parade together? You have to get a special permit from the City of Dallas Special Events office at least 45 days before the event, then once the theme of the event has been decided you begin contacting feeder schools for floats and neighborhood VIP's to ride in the cars. The parade would not be a success without the help of the numerous volunteers who help with handouts, invitations, RSVP's, float building, convertible driving, truck hauling, trailer pick up/drop off, and VIP reception room "goodies" cooking.
4. How do the parents and students meet the deadlines for the parade? We try to be flexible, many groups weren't sure what they were going to have in the parade until the last minute, and one VIP let us know he could make it the day before the parade. However many groups, like band, Panaders and the class floats can always be counted on to be participants. For most volunteers the only deadline is showing up to drive or direct traffic the day of the parade.
5. How do you plan a float? As a parent who has hosted the float building in previous years, I let the kids do all of the building and construction themselves. That having been said, they probably could have made a more professional looking float if I'd given them a little advice before cutting wood: "Measure twice, cut once" comes to mind.
6. Where do most of the materials come from for the floats? The only necessary part is a trailer with a truck to pull it. You can use almost anything depending on the theme that is set for that year. A constructed backdrop is nice but not necessary.
7. What is the most important reason to have a parade? Parades seem kind of cheesy until you get to ride in one, or stand next to one, or help put one on. Then you can't stop smiling because it really is fun to watch and wave.
8. How do you decide the order for the floats for the parade? This year I kept the "best for last" and put the floats at the end, with the class floats right before the feeder school's. This gave them the maximum amount of time in the parking lot pre-parade to get the final touches (and minor fixes) done.

A special shout of "THANK YOU" to Sewell Auto Group, who provided us with some tremendous Hummers, convertibles and a hot little car for our honored guest, U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions. And another big thank you to the HHS parents of Lightning Motor Sports for sharing their convertibles with us as well.

The only downside? Unfortunately in the excitement of conclusion (with no major incidents), I volunteered to do this again next year.

No comments: