MY PARADE STORY
I CAN'T RIDE WITH WILLIE
My first time in a parade almost didn't happen.
I hope to see many of you in the Wauwatosa parade this morning. Mike Jacobs and I are riding together. We're unit number 33 I think, so look for us. I believe my daughter Ella will ride too, if I pack snacks and a juice box.
I generally don't like being in parades, mostly because I find it embarrassing. I think to myself, if I were going to sit on the curb and watch a parade for two hours would I want to see me? Not so much.
Well, the first parade I was in... I almost wasn't in.
I was to be in the West Allis Holiday Parade, this had to be at least 6 years ago. I roll up on the parade route, check in, and wait for my ride.
Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Tick, tock.
The parade has started... and I've got no car. The guys who were supposed to provide said vehicle haven't shown. Parade organizers are frantically looking for him, and also brainstorming other ideas. It wasn't their fault, but they had to fix it.
So the lady I'm dealing with starts looking around for another car for me to ride in. I'm thinking I'd just go home and save them the trouble, but my mom is somewhere on the parade route with her camera. She's waiting to feel proud of her son, and I didn't want to deny her that if I didn't have to.
Well the lady spies the car with Radio hosts Dick & Ellen. She suggests, "You can ride with Dick & Ellen. Let's ask them."
I stepped in to save those two from that idea right away. They had their car. It wasn't their fault my guy didn't show. "That's okay," I said. "I'm sure they shouldn't have to share their car, and it really wouldn't make sense anyway."
Then the lady looks over to the car/float for the West Allis Western Days festival. It's all glittered and streamered up. Big signs promoting the summer festival. "There's probably room in that car," the woman said, glancing toward this assembly. "You can ride with Willie."
I look over, and there, next to the car, is the West Allis Western Days mascot, Willie. To be honest, I can't say for sure if that bull's name was Willie, but it sound right. She definitely referred to him by his first name.
He's looks kind of like the bull from the movie Bull Durham. He's kind of trotting around with that little mascot saunter. He's already waving at people, and we're not even out of the gates yet. I mean, this guy is putting on a show.
I got a sense of fear in my heart. What the heck was I going to do? They didn't want me to walk. They didn't have a car for me. They wanted me to ride with Willie.
"I can't... I can't ride with Willie. Really. I think my promotions guy would be really mad at me. I'm sure it's not what he had in mind."
I was about to bow out, when the guy and car pulled up. He pulled in... I rode... my mom took pictures and that was that. Needless to say, I haven't been invited back to the West Allis Holiday Parade, and Western Days has since been canceled. Sorry Willie.
Happy 4th of July. My most sincere thanks and best wishes to military families past and present, particularly those of you with family members overseas or otherwise far from home in service to our country. Thank you.