Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Parades, "patriots" and pilfering

Every year, the city that I grew up in has a parade on the evening of July 23, followed by fireworks at one of the local Junior High schools. It's become a tradition in my family to stake out a parade spot and a fireworks spot for whoever wants to come (typically my mom's siblings, kids and grand kids, and sometimes my grandparents). My dad is always such a good sport and gets down to the parade route at the crack of dawn to ensure that we always get a nice, shady spot. This year was to be no different.

Except that it was.

The night before the parade, my parents scoped out a spot for the parade, and placed their chairs on some private property (which is perfectly legal so long as the property owner doesn't object) so that my dad could come down and move them onto the park strip in the morning. He got down there at 5:45 am, and waited until 7:00 am (per the city's rules) to move them onto the park strip. He also stretched a blanket out over the curb, but was stopped by a police officer. Because the road was not yet closed, the curbs had to remain empty. But, as all people aware of parade etiquette (and rules) are aware, you can't put chairs in the curb area anyway, you can only have a blanket in that area, and it can't stick out more than a foot or two. So he wasn't worried. We had our great spot.

We decided to get down to the parade early to ensure that our spot was intact, and were thoroughly dismayed to discover this:
Yup, these people saw our chairs and decided to put their chairs (and blankets) IN FRONT of all of our chairs. (Remember how that's not allowed?) Think of it this way: you set your chair right at the edge of the park strip, top of the curb. You leave for a minute of two, and come back to find someone sitting on the curb right in front of your chair... right where your chair was. So you can't even get to your chair because someone is blocking your access. That's clearly encroaching on a claimed spot, is it not? (And who has the audacity to just push people aside who have already claimed a spot? It's like refusing to give up your seat in a movie theater/concert/etc. when you're sitting in someone else's assigned seat.)

My mom calmly stated that this was our parade spot, that they weren't supposed to be in the gutter anyway, and could they please move... they just stared at her. One of the women who had put her kids in front of our spot offered to move them back (because she actually had a sense of decency I suppose) and apologized to us, because they were obviously encroaching on a claimed spot. But as soon as they moved, her crazy husband started yelling obscenities at my dad (who hadn't said anything up to this point) telling him that he shouldn't have made them move. All while his wife was trying to tell him that she offered to move because it was our spot.

So a police officer comes over and asks what the problem is, and this guy is yelling and carrying on like I've never seen. His wife is still trying to explain that we didn't make them move, to which her husband just tells her to shut up. The cop diffuses things and the guy leaves the parade. With his wife still sobbing. My mom felt awful and went to talk to the lady, but apparently her husband "is like this all the time," which is a very sad thought. That crisis averted, we still had to deal with the other group of people (pictured above) who were sitting in front of the rest of our chairs.

A lady that had staked out the spot adjacent to ours (and had bonded with my dad whilst they were saving said spots) noticed what had happened, and decided to go up to these people and tell them to move. She was very polite about it, but said that they weren't "following proper parade etiquette" and that my dad had been there since the night before. The same police officer came back over and she explained to him that we had staked out this spot and that these people weren't supposed to be sitting in the gutter anyway. The officer agreed, saying that chairs weren't supposed to be placed there, and the patriarch of the group declared that they "could sit wherever they wanted." (You know, because it's their God-given right to think only of themselves and their personal freedoms. Glenn Beck said so. They're patriots, really. I'm sure Lincoln would be so proud.)*

Instead of making them move (as he should have) he just lazily said that if we all couldn't work it out, he'd start writing citations. To all of us. Even though we hadn't done anything but follow the rules. So my mom said we would just work it out, and finally asked one of the women, if they could, at the very least, scoot over a bit so the little kids could sit in front of us. She agreed, and moved about a foot. So helpful. (And patriotic. Or something.)

As a consequence, these people were sticking out in the middle of the road about 8 ft. farther than is legally allowed, and the police officer "patrolling" our area on foot decided that that was okay.

But it wasn't okay.

Some of you may have heard about what happened next. The parade started, and the Highway Patrol were doing formations with their motorcycles. One UHP officer had to make a tighter-than-anticipated turn (due to the people next to us that were sticking out too far) and clipped another officer. As a consequence, the officer that got clipped crashed into the parade crowd, right on top of a little girl. (And about 20 ft. away from where we were sitting.) Thankfully, no one was seriously injured. But I wanted to grab that cop and ask him if letting those people stay in their spot even though it was against the rules was worth it. I won't mention what I wanted to say to the people who caused the accident.

The parade went on, and was enjoyable, in spite of it all. (Though I want to know what was up with the 2 minute gaps between floats this year... I mean seriously.)
After the parade drama, we decided to forgo our spot at the fireworks (my dad had already seen our blankets pushed to the side, anyway) and instead viewed them from my parents' deck (which was a fabulous view, by the way). When my parents went down to pick up our blankets, they were dismayed to discover that they had been stolen. Seriously. Stolen. They went down right after the fireworks were over (people were still there) and couldn't find the blankets. So my dad went back the next morning. Chairs and blankets that had been left were folded up neatly in a line. But my parents' blankets weren't there. Which is too bad, really.

Though the aforementioned story was a bit negative, we still managed to have a good time. It was nice to spend time with the family and have a few stories to laugh about later. Though I think next year we may have someone patrolling our spot around the clock. That, or just buy a taser.*

* Statements made directly previous to this asterisk are meant to be thoroughly sardonic. Just in case you momentarily thought I lost all my marbles and joined the Glenn Beck train to insanity.


Eliza said...

I swear that parade (well, setting up for it) gets more insane every year... gotta love the whole "well of course I'm more important than anyone else" attitude that sadly prevails amongst so many people these days? Er, or something.

I am glad that despite such ridiculous nonsense on the part of other people that you and your family were still able to have an enjoyable time. And I'm glad that nobody was seriously injured in the accident, scary!

Cameron and Rachel Bott said...

I ran into about three of the meanest people trying to save spots the morning of the parade too. One lady had actually claimed an entire block for her family, and because she had been there since a quarter to four that morning. She owned the whole block. The signs posted every ten feet said 7AM but whatever.

I did finally find a spot and luckily my place wasn't pushed back or moved. But man was i disappointed in bountiful residents. I also didn't have anyone move my blankets at MPJ. I'm sorry for such a bummer. I know lots of people that experienced that same problem.

Hope you guys are doing well, we haven't seen you in a long time, we should get together soon!

Stacey said...

What the... some people seriously BAFFLE me. I hope they felt terrible about themselves. We need to get together soon, and you guys can have first dibs to sit wherever you want.

Shannon said...

I love how all of this rubbish was happening on a holiday celebrating service, sacrifice, and others before self. Good job, B residents. Good job.
On a lighter note, I'm glad you had such a fabulous view for the fireworks, and I'm glad that everyone was okay in the big collision. Sheesh. What a 24th to remember.

Amber said...

Getting a spot to that parade is getting more life threatening every year :) That totally stinks, and the citation is even more crazy! It reminded me of last week when I took my boys to a kids concert at Riverside Park. We were on the third row and it was HOT. Three moms on the front row were asked by concert personnel to put up their umbrellas (used for shade) when it started so all the children behind them could see. The show started and even after some moms in my groups asked them nicely to put them away the ladies proceeded to stand up in the front row, dancing and waving their umbrellas. Nice and so disappointing.

Shan and Mike said...

This story absolutely annoyed and infuriated me simply by reading it. I can't imagine actually being in this situation, are people honestly that dense?! Really? Its like the parents that let their children run out into the road in front of moving cars/floats/engines to get the taffy...ah! ghastly. Hope all is well with you guys!