My husband Bill and I braved the cold this past weekend to march in the Winter Carnival Grande Day Parade on Saturday, January 26, 2013. We (ok I) signed us on as volunteer chaperones for the 48 Rotary International Students who were spending the weekend as guests of Roseville Rotarians.
The students carried flags that represented their country. They hailed from Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, Spain, Nigeria, France, South Korea, Ireland and the crowd favorite - Norway. That young woman received shout outs and requests for pictures from lots of spectators as she walked the parade route.
Speaking of the route, I am assuming it had changed this year to accommodate light rail construction – which is the only reason why I can think we lined up on Cliff Street down by the Saint Paul School Administration offices. The buses dropped us off about 1PM at marker number 66 which was right behind the railroad tracks. Then that fairly warm school bus took off! Kids being kids, after a while they were standing on the tracks. Parade workers in a golf cart came by and warned them to stay off the tracks.
One guy said “I am not sure that trains will not be using these tracks today.” Now call me crazy but I highly doubt that the Winter Carnival Organization would have a parade route staging area that included the possibility of trains passing by with 40 more units/floats behind us still having to cross over. I didn’t buy it and after a while, neither did the kids.
Someone told me had to walk about 1.5 miles before we made it to the start of the parade which was scheduled for 2PM. I estimated that left us about 55 minutes to wait for the parade to start and another 15 -20 minutes before we started moving. I was dressed warmly enough, though I could have used a long underwear shirt and a hat in addition to my scarf and insulated gloves would have also been nice.
But my issues were nothing compared to the young lady I spotted wearing what looked like Japanese slippers to me. Another girl from Nigeria had on heavy duty looking Moon Boots but the sweatshirt did not cut it for outdoor wear. One young man had on winter wear and a blanket! We were behind the Saint Paul Pool and Yacht Club with a party crowd on deck and ahead of the Woodbury Royalty Float which entertained the crowd and us with country music and line dancing.
Tour Minnesota Association (TMA) was about 5 spots ahead of us in a deluxe motor coach. Bill and I walked to the end of the block to see what was going on around the corner, hoping for some movement, and saw that TMA had hot dogs cooking on a grill in front of the bus. My company is a dues paying member and if I would not have seemed like a deserter to my fellow Rotarians I would have totally climbed on board!
There are some unique homes in some quirky neighborhoods in the West End with nice views of the Mississippi River. The opportunity to look around neighborhoods was another ’cool’ thing about being outside. We had barely walked half a mile before a young girl tugged on my jacket and said, ’Excuse me Ma’am but how much farther do we have?”
I told her we had to walk about another ½ mile before we even got to the parade route. She looked cold; I asked her where she was from. I thought she said ’Roseville’ so I said if you are from “Roseville you are used to this…turns out she had actually said Brazil.
I saw her texting later and I asked if she was telling people at home she hates it here. She smiled, shook her head no and said she was texting her friends that she was freezing cold. I told Bill she would never complain about heat at home again.
The boys from Brazil and Indonesia got the crowds going with their flag waving and shouts. They said our parade crowds were too quiet. They are used to horns and whistles and shouting at their parades- which is probably much easier to do if your lips and jaw are not frozen shut!
There was a good turnout for the parade that swelled the closer we got to Rice Park. I think everyone had fun. The experience was memorably unique, the park looked awesome with the ice bar and all the ice carvings. But I think in the end the best sight of all was the buses idling on Cedar Street!
On the bus ride back the kids started singing, someone produced a tambourine and the noise grew as the kids warmed up and looked forward to the next stop. Bowling at Flaherty’s in Arden Hills then back to Parkview School for dancing, movies and a sleepover.
Bill and I headed home to sit by the fireplace and discuss our next outing! His choice is Sanibel Island Florida