too!! much!! fun!!

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We had our first official event today: the Chapel Hill, NC Christmas parade. What a blast! Thought not without technical hitches, the car was a hit -- especially with kids -- and it was loads of fun to add temporary decorations like Christmas garlands and my favorite, big, brightly colored inflatable rainbow trout.

The trout were supposed be filled with helium and float over the car. But I found out -- just yesterday -- that they are vinyl and vinyl is too heavy for helium. Uh oh, time for plan B!

Plan B turned out to be finding slim metal stakes at the hardware store, bending one end, hanging the trout from the straight end and taping the bent end to the car. It worked surprisingly well; and thank god none came loose. I can just see the headline: "Tragedy Strikes Parade: Child Impaled by Staked Inflatable Fish!"

We had also planned on adding a bubble blowing machine to the roof, but that didn't quite work out as intended. It was easy to attach it to the car with the heavy-duty magnets from Newark Jim. And when we first turned on the bubble machine, it worked great. The bubbles were tiny, but the machine blew such a large quantity that the effect was really stellar.

Unfortunately, we turned it on way too soon. By the time we actually started to roll, the machine started spewing a foamy mess instead of blowing cute little bubbles. (I think that too much bubble juice had been used up so it was picking up the foamy stuff on top instead of the liquid.) In such a short parade, we never stopped long enough for either Georg or myself to take a look and figure out what was wrong. So we just turned it off.

Despite the lack of bubbles, the car was a hit. The response from the crowd was great! People applauded and cheered when we went by. Lots of kids, girls mainly, noticed the Barbie on the roof & were absolutely transfixed. I think I heard more people yelling "Barbie" than "fish"! (Note to self: get more Barbie.) I also heard three people point out the mah jongg tiles, and one guy even said "art car"!

It might have been my imagination, but people seemed to say similar things about the car depending on where they were on the street. We'd have a clump of people yelling "Barbie" and then another clump saying "fish car" and then we'd hear "Barbie" again. Maybe like-minded people stand together? Or maybe people tend to notice whatever the people near them are pointing out?

We ended up driving right behind a classic VW car club. I don't think they were all that thrilled about having such a freaky car in their midst. (literally: some of them were late, so we were smack in the middle of them until they got into formation.) They were polite enough, but seemed eager to move their cars away from us. Maybe they were just jealous because people seemed to like our car better :)

It was fairly amusing to be parked in the middle of a dozen or so classic cars, all of us doing our last minute adjustments: They gently wiped away smudges with their soft cloths; we blew up the trout, taped them in place, and pinned little red bows to the tinsel garland. In any case, next time it would be nice if we get a group of art cars to enter and drive together. Even if it were only two or three, it would be fun to show our stuff as a group.

I never realized before how different a parade is when you're in it. I didn't have time before we started to walk up the line-up and see who else was there. (Actually I would have had time, but I didn't realize it because I took their "roll at 9:30 sharp" instruction seriously.) So the only parade entries I saw were the ones in our immediate vicinity. A bunch of classic cars; the Shriners; Falun Gong; and a recycling float with a pine tree and llama (which was probably supposed to be a reindeer) made of recyclable plastic. I have no idea who else was in the parade.

We took the trout down as soon as the parade was over -- no way would I risk those taped down stakes at regular speed -- but I'm going to leave the garlands up as long as I can. Which won't be more than a few days unless I alter my commute to avoid highway driving. That shiny tinsel garland looks so darned cool. Maybe I'll hang some of it on the inside.

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This page contains a single entry by Sarah published on December 1, 2001 9:30 PM.

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