The Lead: Christmas Parades
Welcome back to another Retro Ramblings Weekly. I had to take last week off as I was knee-deep in chores getting ready for the Thanksgiving feast. But I’m back this week and armed with some nostalgia to share with you.
For most people, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a treasured tradition. Now while I’m not a huge fan of that parade in particular, I AM a fan of parades in general, specifically Christmas parades. At this time of year, I’m always taken back to my youth, and the town Christmas parade that was held every year, usually on the first Saturday in December.
Now I grew up in a small town. I mean, really small. We didn’t have very many annual events in that small town. We had a 4th of July celebration, an annual Spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the high school football team, and the Christmas parade. So to give clarity, the yearly Christmas parade was a big deal, and it was one of the highlights of my year.
We didn’t have big, elaborate floats in our parade, nor did we have huge marching bands. What we did have though, was local high school marching bands, small floats created on the back of hay wagons, cars and trucks with signs advertising local businesses, and fire trucks. Lots and lots of fire trucks.
My old man was the fire chief back in the ’80s, and so the responsibility of organizing the parade fell to him every year. He took it seriously, and knowing that the parade would be lacking the usual things that make parades great, he called every other fire department in the region and accumulated more fire trucks than any parade in the western half of the state. It became the calling card of the annual Christmas parade. You could come to our parade, and see over 100 fire trucks in most years.
The other calling card of the parade, my Dad was also responsible for. The fire department would raise money all year long, and then use it to buy supplies to make treat bags for everyone at the parade. EVERYONE. Once the parade rolled through the town square, everyone would start walking behind the parade over to the parking lot of the grocery store where treat bags would be handed out to everybody. In those bags, there was usually an apple, and orange, a full-size candy bar, and a few pieces of strawberry hard candy.
It was a little thing, but for folks who used to go to those parades back in those years, it’s still a memory they have and hold dear. We were a small community, and it was just another way we were drawn closer together each year. I always think back on it as the kickoff to the Christmas season, and it’s one of the many memories that still make Christmas my favorite time of year even to this day.
Things I Think I Think This Week
I think… that Matt’s stuffed mushrooms recipe was a big hit at our Thanksgiving dinner. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Matt from DinosaurDracula.com has a recipe for stuffed mushrooms that he has posted in the past. He plugs that post every year, and this year, I took the plunge and joined the many people who have made them for themselves. I was not disappointed, and neither were our guests. I guess these mushrooms will now become a part of our Thanksgiving dinner every year, and I’m fine with that.
I think… that in my mind, I may have over-hyped the Pringles Friendsgiving Turducken pack. As you will remember, I missed out on getting one of these packs when they were offered online, but our good friend Tony from Retro-Daze was super kind and sent me one. We received them early in the week, and the kids and I were excited to try them. Unfortunately, the taste didn’t live up to the hype, for me at least. The chicken flavor was good, the turkey was ok, but the duck wasn’t what it could have been. And the one I was most excited for, the stuffing flavored chip, was just awful. The pumpkin pie flavor was ok, and the cranberry sauce inspired one was my favorite. I still greatly appreciate Tony for sending them to me, but as a recommendation, I would suggest just sticking with the Limited Edition Roasted Turkey flavor you can find in your local grocery store.
I think… that this year’s Iron Bowl game between Auburn and Alabama was a lot of fun to watch. It was made even more fun by the fact that Alabama lost, and will now almost certainly be eliminated from the CFB Playoffs. There was a lot of back and forth action, but unfortunately, the game ended on a technicality that slightly marred what was otherwise a really good game.
I think… that while talking about college football, I should point you in the direction of the fantastic documentary series called Saturdays in the South: A History of SEC Football. The entire saga is available to watch on YouTube and is well worth the 15 hours or so it takes to get through all of it. The first episode even features a guy I went to high school with. He is currently a history professor at the University of Tennessee, and it was cool seeing him on the big screen talking about the history of the south in general. Look for him in the first ten minutes. His name is Bob Hutton. He comes across kind of dry in his segments, but I can attest to the fact that he is one genuinely funny individual.
I think… that while I’m talking about YouTube, I’ve got a couple of more points to hit. The first being that later this week, keep your eyes open for our latest Retro Round Table Review podcast, where myself, Jason, and Gary got together to discuss the second season of the wonderful Cobra Kai series. It only runs for about an hour, but I think you’ll be entertained by it.
I think… that you might also enjoy my ongoing series here on TRN and YouTube called Wax Pack Flashback. In it, I open an old pack of trading cards each week so you can revisit those fun days of getting new wax packs. There are three episodes up so far, and a new one drops every Wednesday.
I think… that YouTube’s new COPPA law enforcement is going to create headaches for a lot of creators. You can go read what its all about for yourselves, but I can say that it is really going to put a kink in a lot of the videos that I film since they feature my kids. Here at TRN we are considering several alternatives, and will surely let you know what our plans are as soon as we finalize them.
I think… that with Adam currently working on launching his new podcast, Wizards: The Podcast Guide to Comics, I’m really hankering to go back and read some of the better offerings from the ’90s. One of the things I really enjoyed back then was the Ultraverse line of comics put out by Malibu Comics in those days. I found a chronological reading list guide to the Ultraverse, and two weeks ago I took the plunge and ordered the first fifty issues I needed to start the reading list. It’s been a lot of fun going back and reading those stories again, and I’m excited to keep going.
I think… you’re going to enjoy tomorrow’s episode of the TRN Podcast where Jason and I countdown our favorite Christmas movies of all time. Christmas is my favorite time of year, and it takes the whole month of December for me to get through my entire watch list. One of the movies you’ll hear me talk about is Christmas Comes to Willow Creek starting John Schneider and Tom Wopat. They filmed it together the year after the Dukes of Hazzard wrapped up, and it has become one of my favorite yearly traditions. It’s currently free to watch if you have Amazon Prime, and if you do, you need to watch it this season.
I think… that I like the fact that Mtn Dew comes out with a different holiday-inspired flavor each year. This years offering is called Merry Mash-Up and features a cranberry and pomegranate mix with other flavors thrown in. It’s not as good as some of the ones offered in past years, but it’s still tasty and is now firmly ingrained as one of our Christmas traditions.
I think… that now I’ve breached the subject of Christmas, I might as well share with everyone else what I revealed to my wife as the one thing I want for Christmas this year. Much like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, I want a Red Ryder BB Gun. Daisy has the 1938 model of the iconic gun available again, and I think it would fit me just fine. She never lets me down when there is something that I really want for Christmas, so I look forward to taking it out on Christmas day and letting Black Bart have it.
I think… that while I’m talking about Christmas presents, maybe you would enjoy going back in time to browse some old Sears Christmas Wishbooks like I enjoy doing. You can do so by going to WishbookWeb and flipping through the pages of many years of the catalog. I’ve gone through a couple of them over at RetroRamblings.com, and you can take a look at the items I want from some of those years. The year of 1988 is already up on the site, and the years of 1986 and 1989 are coming soon.
I think… you should also keep your eye on my personal Twitter feed every day this month, as I post a unique Christmas gift idea from 1989. The technology of the late ’80s is fascinating, so I’m sharing it with the world in a humorous way that I think you might like.
I think… that’s going to do it for this edition of Retro Ramblings Weekly, but before I go, I leave you with a fun Christmas video. It’s the He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special from 1985. Enjoy!