And the sparklers light the sky
I'm gonna raise the roof, I'm gonna carry on
Give me an old trombone, give me an old baton
Before the parade passes by.
–From the musical "Hello Dolly"
I walked 2 blocks from my day job this afternoon to attend a "ticker tape" parade. I put that into quotes because, of course, real ticker tape is a relic from a bygone era. What rained down this afternoon seemed to mostly be either shredded newspapers or regular bond paper that had gone through a paper shredder.
There. I'm glad we got that point out of the way. The parade was in honor of our World Champion Chicago White Sox, thank you very much. I was kind of on the fence about whether to attend, but CL made a remark that settled the matter in my mind. She simply commented something along the lines of "How many times do you get a chance to be part of a ticker tape parade?" There you go. One friggin' street over from where I work. It's never going to be easier to do than it was today. I ended up closer to the action than many of the people watching the parade, about 20 feet or so from the curb of La Salle Street, corner of Monroe. The parade went right past, headed north on La Salle. It was a genuine thrill to see the beaming faces of those baseball players as they rode in the open air upper level of a string of double-decker buses. I have to say that no one beamed more brightly than the White Sox manager, Ozzie Guillen. He leaned forward over the front of the top railing as if he were Leo DiCaprio in "Titanic." The most curious face I saw up there was that of Sox broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson. He was sitting at the back of the upper level on the same bus that Guillen rode, except that Harrelson had a far-away look on his face and sat there rather limp and motionless. Perhaps he was just a little tired, or hung over, but he looked to me as if he were utterly disconnected from all the commotion and celebration that surrounded him, and I wondered what was going through his mind at that moment.
A few minutes before the players came along on their buses, a string of, oh, let's call them opening acts, began the parade. These included a marching band replete with synchronized flag wavers, and a float from our good friends at ComEd (for you non-Chicagoans, that's Commonwealth Edison, our local electric company). People on the ComEd float were throwing rubber baseballs to the crowd. At one point, a ball came toward me. I reached up, only to have a hand swoop right in front of mine, deflecting the ball away to a lucky third party. A moment later, another ball came toward me. It was high in the air, and I thought it was a little too high, but I lunged upward - and came down with a ball in my hand! A lovely little souvenir reading, "Believe It! Chicago White Sox, 2005 World Series Champions." A moment later, yet another ball came by, and I snatched that one out of the air as well. I turned around and saw an old fellow, perhaps pushing 70, who was right behind me and who had reached in vain for the ball I had just caught. I did my good deed for the day and handed him the ball. That look in his eyes - it bespoke a man who had quite possibly rooted for the White Sox his whole life, and to whom this little piece of rubber seemed to represent a lot more than it did to me. And after all - I already had one! Oh, and there was a little man to my right who, having seen me snag two balls cleanly out of the air, snorted, "I always end up standing next to the ex-ball players." I just smiled. If he only knew! Ha!
I returned to the office to find that at least a half dozen other people in the office had attended the parade as well, including the aforementioned CL, who it turns out was probably mere feet away from me, though we never saw each other. Note to self: The next time I attend a ticker tape parade, wear a hat! I fear I may be finding tiny bits of confetti in unlikely places for days to come.