Long time blog readers know that for us, the Fourth of July means participating in the City of Yukon’s annual Fourth of July Children’s Parade. The parade is also a competition with three categories: most patriotic, most creative, and best costume.
Susan, the kids and I entered floats in 2006 (the Rocketship) and 2007 (the Birthday Cake). In 2006 we won “best costume” and in 2007 we won “most creative”. Not to sound cocky, but I ended the 2007 blog post with the following prediction: Next year? Look out for the three-peat!
This year’s float entry was titled, “From Sea to Shining Sea.” Using old Dell computer boxes, some colored duct tape, a bit of paint and Granny’s garden wagon, we put together the sailboat (the U.S.S. Freedom) in a day. If there’s one thing participating in the Olympics/Odyssey of the Mind taught Susan and I as kids, it’s that you can build pretty much anything out of cardboard, duct tape and paint.
Susan was responsible for the theme, the cardboard work, and the sail. And speaking of the sail, it’s really a working sail. It can be raised and lowered through some series of rope secrets that sailors (like Susan) know. A little over the top, but a nice touch.
Building a float in your front yard is one thing; getting it to the parade is quite another. I’m reminded of those cake decorating contests from the Food Network, where chefs must not only decorate their cakes but also transport them from the kitchen to the display area. While I will agree that those cakes are more fragile than our floats, I’d like to see them toss one into the back of a pickup and drive it at 40mph. Fortunately for us everything held together (the sail is removable), the only damage being done during the boat’s removal from my truck — nothing a little more duct tape couldn’t resolve.
As always, people took an early notice to our float. Within a few minutes, a local news station had set up their camera and began interviewing the kids. Mason gave a lot of one word answers and I don’t expect to see the interview on the news, but I have Pivo set to record it just in case.
I wish I could say the competition was stiff this year but to be honest there weren’t as many entries as there were the past two years. The kids are divided into four groups; three by age, and one for “groups.” We always get lumped into the group category because we have two kids together. This year, we had three — cousin Griffin came along for the ride. Griffin wore his pirate costume from last week’s birthday party. Morgan wore a sailor outfit. Mason was supposed to wear his pirate costume but decided it wasn’t cool about an hour before the parade and so he wore blue shorts and a red shirt.
And so, down the parade route we went, kids-a-wavin’ and dad-a-pullin’. We were one of the very few dad-pulling-wagon entries. Most “floats” either consisted of kids on bicycles, scooters, or battery-powered cars. We considered using the golf kart as part of the float multiple times but the logistics of transporting everything up to the parade has so far prevented us.
After the parade was over it was time for judging. I’ve tried to make this at least a little suspenseful but, c’mon, did you see that sail? When I call a three-peat, I call a three-peat people.
First place for “most patriotic” … Mason, Morgan, and cousin Griffin. Not only did we pull the three-peat, technically we rocked a perfect trifecta by winning all three categories in three years. How on earth can we top that? I’ll tell you how.
Uncle Samtron 2000.
About three months ago, I woke up at three in the morning and said the words aloud: “Uncle Samtron 2000.” I dreamed it. There we were; Susan and the kids, leading me down the Fourth of July parade route in a ten-foot-tall robot costume. The robot was a cross between a mech warrior and a Transformer-looking robot. It was painted red, white, and blue. It was big, it was patriotic, and it was bad ass. Not only did I dream about the parade, but I also dreamed about the blueprints. Last year I called it — three-peat. This year, I’m calling it again.
Most Creative, 2009: Uncle Samtron 2000
As for the U.S.S. Freedom? Well, while freedom is forever, cardboard sailboats representing freedom are not. Sometimes cardboard sailboats representing freedom don’t even make it home from the parade.