Mama Goose Loves a Parade

June 5, 2010

The highlight of my Festival Parade experience... and possibly of my whole year.

Turns out that my friend Erika, in all her years living in Tompkins County, has never been to the Ithaca Festival Parade.   I know, shocking, right?   You’re shocked, horrified, completely aghast?  Me too!  

For us, still fairly new Ithacans in the scheme of things, the Ithaca Festival, and the parade in particular, has managed to be a fairly momentous occasion more often than not.  Bailey and I moved upstate in late May 2006.  At that point, our last known residence was a 9th floor North Bronx apartment with a spectacular view of a 24-hour McDonald’s Drive-through, and for the four months preceding our arrival in Ithaca, we’d been driving around the country, living in our car — our version of a honeymoon.  This is all to say that we were a bit turned around when we finally plopped our suitcases on the floor of our new summer sublet, precariously perched on the terrifying slope of death that is Prospect Street.  Our disorientation worsened as we struggled to sleep at night, missing the noise of the city, and spent our days struggling each time a stranger smiled at us, or uttered an unsolicited hello.  Quiet? Friendly? Ample opportunities for recycling? What was this place? 

Still shell-shocked, and barely at the end of our first full week in town, we went for a walk one evening and stumbled into a crowd, who turned out to be awaiting a parade.   We stayed, of course, because it’s terribly bad manners to turn down a parade when it presents itself to you,  and it was that evening that I first experienced the magic of my two favorite parade events:  the Volvo Ballet and the He-Man Chainsaw Marching Band, and with that, we knew this small town was right up our alley. 

Two years later, we missed the parade — we were otherwise occupied, attending the birth of our daughter, Corrina.  She arrived on the scene just as people were getting into formation at the top of Cayuga Street.  News of her birth spread throughout the parade, as my friend Keli, our first phone call after the one to my parents, ran up to the First Baptist Church parade contingent to tell our dear friend Andrea that her honorary grandchild had arrived.  It is no wonder that Corrina seems to expect fanfare and festivities in response to her every move. 

Last year, we marched with the Mama Goose brigade, though I was still several months away from joining the gosling crew.  I think I stumbled into the Goose just as Kelly realized that she was still in need of a couple contestants for her mobile cloth diapering contest and before I knew it, we were ensconsed in the Goose crowd — faces that, on that day, seemed vaguely familiar but today, now that I’ve settled into the Goose nest, feel like family.  

This year, with the opening of Mimi’s Attic and all the attendant hullabaloo, we all needed to rest our marching feet.  I rested mine in excellent company, cheering on the parade with Julie and Gina’s families, cooperatively playing a sort of Mama Goose Where’s Waldo? game.  Every two minutes or so,  one of us would exclaim, “Look!  Over there!  She’s a customer!”   Don’t mock us — we get our kicks where we can.  Plus, we took pictures, like the ones below.  Visit our Flickr page to see  the complete set.  If our not-so-eagle-eyes missed you, send me your own pics — I’ll get ’em up there faster than you can play the opening line of Chain of Fools on the buzzsaw.  

Customer Asha Sanaker, marching with the Greenstar contingent, stops to admonish the goslings for our failure to march.

Customer Kristina jumped into her first Ithaca Festival with both feet, packing up her family to march with BirthNet. She's such a go-getter!

-Meryl at the Goose


One Response to “Mama Goose Loves a Parade”

  1. Asha Says:

    It is a predictable irony of my life at GreenStar that they have no pics of me marching for them in the parade but you do.

    I avoided the whole Festival thing for years after we moved here. Was totally broke and didn’t like the idea of the crowds. This is my second year marching for GreenStar and I think it is great. I can see and enjoy the crowds without feeling like I have to be smushed in there with ’em. And it reminds me why we moved here. Still can’t quite work myself up to the Festival though…

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