Snoopy Meets Daft Punk: Part Four Send in the Clowns

So fellow travelers, it’s time to send in the clowns.

As I headed through the still dark and quiet streets at Columbus Circle, I heard someone call my name.  I turned to see fellow Baldwinsville Band Parents emerging from a nearby subway entrance. I quickly filled them in on the directions I had received from the NYPD officers and we agreed to find a location just north of the bleachers, where we could line up on both sides of the parade.  Band parents learn how to strategically place themselves to be able to see their kids perform.  For example, I knew our daughter would be on the left (if you faced the oncoming band) end of the bell line.  Other parents had kids closer to the opposite side of the lines. We also knew from messages coming in on our phones that groups were meeting at various locations along 6th avenue.

As people began to arrive and stake out spots along the curb, a sweet young NYPD officer who told us she was assigned to our block advised us to be sure to scoot out to “use the facilities”  before the side streets were closed off.  My husband decided to make a coffee run to Starbucks which was the closest “facility” available. While he was gone, we struck up a conversation with our officer.  We told her our kids were in the parade and much like the NYPD officers who I met an hour earlier, she was genuinely excited for us.  We could also her radio broadcasting reports on various protest groups moving through the streets of Manhattan.

While the combination of protesters and the Nor’Easter had caused severe problems the day before for many people headed into and around the city, we knew from the band text messages that our group had not encountered any problems.  One mom asked a bit anxiously if the protests would interfere with parade and our officer answered confidently “I doubt they will be able to get close enough. Your kids will all be safe.”  I know every parent gathered with me at 62nd Street and CPWest would take a stand that violence on either side of the law solves nothing. But this was not the time or place for politics.  The focus right now was on the kids and their performance.

My husband returned and as he handed out the coffee orders explained the side street had just been closed off to pedestrians. It was about 6:45am, daylight beginning to reveal a slate grey sky….



The parade is staged at the American Museum of Natural History between 79th and 81st streets. The night before we were able to see the famous balloons and now I had to admit I was almost as excited to see Snoopy as I was to have the band heading our way in about two hours.  All we knew about the band’s location in the line up so far was their performance time at Herald Square would be 10:18am.  (Not 10:15  or 10:20 mind you,  precisely 10:18am and everyone watching at home knew to have their TV tuned on NBC which has exclusive broadcast rights for the Herald Square performances.)  Given the parade route is about 3 miles from start to finish, we figured the band had to be fairly early in the line-up since it would take them just about an hour to march that distance. Remember the parade often has to slow down or pause as the massive balloons make the turns at the SW and SE corners of Central Park. Thankfully the wind was almost dead calm,  perhaps having blown itself out during the blustery Nor’Easter the day before and  cloudy as the morning dawned, we were grateful the air was dry, cold surely but good and dry.

The kids had been training for over a year for this epic march.  Its one thing for young legs to march three miles in cold weather.  Its a whole different experience to march in step, carrying instruments, playing music in time and in tune for three miles.  So to be sure these kids were ready they not only marched in the St. Patrick’s Day parade (known for hitting the coldest weekend in March almost every single year of its history)  they practiced several times a week in November.  One of the last rehearsals before the trip ran on a blustery near single digit lake effect sodden afternoon.



Several kids said it had been so cold their instruments froze. I told them to take heart since the forecast was holding steady at temps in the 40’s and the threat of storms to pass through before parade day. The toughen up strategy worked; by the time the kids marched the actual distance of 2.7 miles that dry, windless mid 40 degree morning it was far easier than they expected. They weren’t excessively cold or tired and the marched and played like pros.

Still for those of us standing still on concrete curbs it was a long wait as toes slowly froze inspite of multiple layers of socks. ( I had forgotten the crucial toe warmers darn it) We passed the time talking about the sights we had seen the day before, sharing funny stories about the hectic days before the trip trying to get kids packed and ready, showing each other selfies the kids posted.  Suddenly everyone’s phones began pinging and singing.  A message came through the group text: the band was behind the Wimpy Kid balloon, a new balloon in the line-up. (Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a series of popular kids books written by Jeff Kinney. They have a humorous appeal to elementary kids, especially boys.)   Immediately texts were sent to those watching at home.  Keep a eye out for the Wimpy Kid Balloon, our anything but wimpy kids would be right behind him.


A lively discussion of the Wimpy Kid book and movie series ensued, followed by a discussion of the merits of other book to movie adaptations from Ramona to Lord of the Rings, with a side conversation on Harry Potter revealing that one of our crowdmates was a visitor from across the pond ( London ) who had come to NYC to see the sights with no knowledge of this Macy’s Parade about to take place.  We gladly filled him in and before we knew it someone called out ” Look at the CNN Building.”



All eyes turned in anticipation up the street and in less than ten minutes the first heralds of the parade rolled towards us…..





Clowns on roller blades…..



Clowns on roller blades armed with massive pockets full of confetti…..


Oh the fun is just beginning.


(to be continued)




Snoopy Meets Daft Punk: Part Three Parade Day

So fellow travelers the epic journey of our trip to watch the Baldwinsville Marching Band in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade continues….

An enhanced snap from Pete’s phone of me slogging through a cold, rainy Nor’Easter swept Times Square




Finding a good meal when traveling with my Would Be Perfect husband is a challenge.  As willing as he is to travel he is a picky eater, a trait he has held from childhood.  The details are unnecessary here, but it means I do a fair amount of advance research on restaurants when traveling. The problem was we had ended up in a different part of the city than originally planned, so by the time we did find a place agreeable to him, ate our meal and arrived back at the hotel we were thoroughly exhausted.

So I should have slept for more than a few hours but I woke just after midnight, restless and unable to fall back to sleep. I was aware the kids would be waking up soon ( honestly I doubted our daughter had even gone to sleep at all ) to prepare for their early morning ( as in 3am early ) rehearsal time in Herald Square.   I checked my phone but saw no recent messages.

When on the road, the band’s coordinator keeps all parents updated of their activities via a group text message.  It’s a mark of how well run an organization these kids are part of.  So far we knew they had made great time on the drive down two days ago, spent their first day in the city at the 911 memorial and Times Square, eaten dinner at Buca Di Beppo, then were treated to the Rockettes’ Christmas show.  Their second day they took a rather wet excursion out to the Statue of Liberty and then, due to the weather, changed itinerary. Instead of going uptown to the Hayden Planetarium for the afternoon, they headed back to their hotel which was in New Jersey to dry off, grab an early dinner, run a few practice drills and retire early to rest for that 3am rehearsal slot.

Many of the parents who had traveled to New York City to see the kids in the parade also set up a group text to keep in touch. As I’ve written before, the majority of the band parents become a kind of extended family.  It takes a small army to stage the field shows, from the soup kitchen moms who coordinate and serve an entirely donated  hot lunch on show days, uniform/flag volunteers who keep the uniforms clean and sharp, make costumes and do emergency repairs on the fly and the pit crew of dads and moms ( of which I am one) who build sets and props then load them on and off the trailer and haul them on and off the field for every rehearsal and show through the whole season. Staging parades is not as involved, but parents still come out to show their support whether in the brutal humidity of the Great New York State Fair



or the frigid cold of the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade which routinely coincides with the coldest Saturday in March



The parents’ plan was to meet at various locations along the parade route, wear something red and bring small signs so the kids would have support along the entire route right up to the “silent zone” a few blocks before Herald Square, beyond which only  VIP passes would grant admission.  With the majority of parents visiting the city for the first time, the logistics of navigating the subways and determining when and where to meet on the parade route would have been daunting without the input and assistance from a few seasoned downstate travelers.  Being one of the those who knew the city fairly well,  I kept a close eye on the group messages so I could respond to questions and help folks get around.  Yes there’s an ap for that, still inside info from someone on the ground is always beneficial.

Several families were staying in hotels near Herald Square where blocks of rooms had been reserved at incredibly affordable rates ( especially for the week of  Thanksgiving ) thanks to some advance planning and excellent negotiating by the band’s activity coordinator.  In order to be on time for their assigned rehearsal time at 3am the kids would have to be up at 1am,  pack and check out of their rooms, move all their luggage to two conference rooms (one for boys, one for girls) load all instruments and equipment, dress in full uniform and board the buses to head for Herald Square.


(photo from one of the band staff captioned “The Band has left the Building”)

I dozed off until messages began to pop up from parents who could hear the bands beginning to rehearse in Herald Square.  By the time 3am arrived, I was wide awake, following both the parent and band group messages. Rehearsal must have gone well; they only needed two run throughs to get the OK that they hit all their marks. Staff posted a few photos….


and then messaged that everyone would load back on the bus to rest until breakfast scheduled for 5am at the Hard Rock Cafe.

By 5am I was dressed and headed out to scout for viewing locations. In the past year of shooting photos of the band in various parades, I learned if it was not possible to be on the street in front of the band (as in the St. Patrick’s Parade photo above) it was preferable to shoot from a corner where they made a turn, to get an angled shot of each line as they went by (refer to the shot above from the State Fair.) I knew we would not be able to get shots out in the street, so our group was planning to meet at Columbus Circle  where I knew the parade would have to make a turn at the southwest corner of Central Park as it headed along 59th street before heading down 6th avenue. So I had opted to book a hotel a few blocks from Columbus Circle rather than down towards Herald Square.

The night we arrived, I had noticed bleachers set up along the Central Park side of the turn.


 Some parents were planning to meet at the bleachers, as they had been told the seating was open to the public, first come first serve. However I was almost certain these would be ticketed seating. something the crews working on location confirmed when I showed up at 5:15am.


 So I spoke with a few NYPD officers who were setting up various barricades along 59th Avenue, east of Columbus Circle.  At first they wanted to direct me out of the area until I explained we had traveled from Upstate New York to see our kids march in parade. They were quite enthusiastic in their response.  Most of them said they couldn’t recall the last time a NY State High School Band was in the parade.  (It has in fact been 2o years since a NYHS was in the parade, and Baldwinsville also had the distinction of being the first band  from Upstate NY to perform in the parade since it began in 1924.)  The officers asked several times for the band’s name and school colors and said they would be sure to tell their reserve section to cheer for the kids. (They made good on their promise; several of the kids mentioned hearing loud cheering from the off duty NYPD delegation and their families who were lined up in front of Trump Hotel at 1 Central Park West .)

My helpful NYPD friends confirmed the bleachers at Columbus Circle were indeed ticketed seating only, as would be most of the standing areas along both sides of 59th Ave and Central Park South.  They advised picking one of the blocks just north of Columbus Circle, on either side of the street which they assured me would all be open to the public.  So I sent out a message to the parent group text and headed in that direction.  As I crossed the still empty and silent street and looked north up Central Park West I had to catch my breath as my heart skipped a beat in anticipation.  Soon,  very soon our kids would be marching down this very street making history.


(To be continued)

Snoopy meets Daft Punk: Part Two a Night at the Museum

So fellow travelers, the journey to NYC and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade continues

For a kid growing up in the Bronx, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is as iconic as the Jolly Ole Elf who arrives in town at the parades end.  When the announcement came out two years ago that the Baldwinsville Marching Band would be in the Macy’s Parade it was a thrilling moment.  There was no doubt in my mind I would be in the crowd watching those kids march those historic blocks to perform at the star in Herald Square.

So I was not the least bit surprised to find I could not sleep the night before Thanksgiving Day.  My husband was sound asleep well before midnight and by all rights I ought to have been just as tired. We had spent a full day in the city, braving wind gusts and steady rains to visit the 911 Memorial Park ( a deeply moving experience which I will write of at a future time)


Times Square


and the American Museum of Natural History.



Hardy Central New Yorkers are not easily deterred by weather, even when the weather on hand is an early winter Nor’easter.  Still I kept thinking how much I preferred snow to rain when the temperatures hovered around freezing and sleet pelleted my camera creating a haze an impossible to focus through on my lens. A warm lunch with a good friend, whom I had not seen in over 20 years brightened our spirits enough to steel us for a trek uptown to catch the staging of the famous balloons.

I had not had a chance to visit the Hayden Planetarium since it reopened in the The Frederick Phineas and Sandra Priest Rose Center for Earth and Space.  The Rose Center for Earth and Space as it is more commonly known (Honestly I prefer the full name. Yes, I know the original is long but why wouldn’t one use a title which incorporates the name Phineas?  Every time a bonded pair of dogs comes into the rescue think of bringing them home and renaming them Phineas and Ferb)  anyways  the Rose Center is spectacular.  To be greeted by a detailed relief globe of the moon is sheer joy for someone who had a map of the moon on her wall and asked for a telescope the Christmas every other girl wanted the Barbie Townhouse.


Just before the planetarium show ( which I cannot blame my Would Be Perfect husband for sleeping through as he drove the whole trip down ) we ran into some fellow band parents one of whom made a point of telling me not to miss the Christmas Tree in the AMNH main lobby.  It had, she said, an origami theme.  I would have just enough time after the show to make it through the building to see it before closing.  This did mean I would have to race through the Biodiversity exhibit and also bypass the dinosaurs which I felt was an irreproachable breech of etiquette since that very exhibit is the one which awakened my interest in science decades ago on a second grade field trip. I did however get to meet my number one American Hero; he graciously consented to a quick photo.


and his excellent museum staff cheerfully pointed us in the right direction where  upon we discovered the tree which this year was a tribute to the movie Night at the Museum,  there was even one piece featuring the Teddy Roosevelt character ( portrayed in the movie by Robin Williams, who yes is indeed in the recently released part Three!)

origamitree72dpi    origamitrex72dpi    origamiteddyR72dpi


The origami tree has I discovered been an annual tradition for over 30 years.  We had time to wander through a few more exhibit, until an announcement sent me racing back through the massive halls to get to the Planetarium gift shop before closing to make some Christmas gift purchases.

Across Theodore Roosevelt Park was the staging area for the massive balloons which are a highlight of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. By now the shifting temps had turned the precipitation into large globs of cold slush. I was certainly glad I had opted to leave my DSLR back at the hotel to dry out for the more important photos of the day to come. Still the balloons were massively impressive, held captive by massive nets weighed down by several tons of sand bags.

MacysATballoon72dpi                 macysBalloon72dpi           MacysEoSballoon72dpi

The Adventure Time balloon, a cartoon show popular with many of the band kids. ( It features an imaginary universe with quirky characters like Lady Rainicorn  a unicorn that speaks Korean.  ) a random balloon we could not identify  and my favorite shot  which I call the Elf on the Shelf face plant or One too many Rum Toddys.

However, it was the moment I saw the Snoopy balloon when it hit me.

My God.

I have a kid who’s in the Parade.

THE Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Performing at Herald Square in a little over twelve hours.


I was suddenly aware I was tired and cold and in desperate need of some kind of warm comfort food.

( to be continued)








Winter Solstice 2014

So fellow travelers,  down with a bit of a seasonal something,  so sharing a timely post from a fellow Bedlam Farm Creative Groupie and Blogger.

Winter Solstice

Tom is an amazing poet  He has just published a collection of poems  .

Blessings of the season.  May the Light of Love shine brightly in the darkness and as Tom says  know  your Love is the Light someone seeks. Peace to all

Walk gently on the path and may adventure find you ready.

Snoopy meets Daft Punk: Part one 36 hour rewind.

So fellow travelers, a week ago Friday, I woke in a jet lagged kind of fog in the spare room at my parents townhouse apartment. My WouldBe Perfect Husband snoring beside me, Favorite Youngest Daughter curled under her travel blanket on the futon by the big bay window.   It took me quite a few minutes to process the events which brought us there. Why did my feet ache so much?  How did I sleep so late (8am)? Why was I so freakin’ dehydrated and tired?

As is my habit, I rewound the events of the past 24….no, wait….. make that 36 hours in my head.  A 2.25 hour drive from my brother’s house near the Oranges in NJ which seemed much longer after an aborted attempt to find a Starbucks open on Thanksgiving Eve. (Thanks Starbucks for hiring my daughter, so we could not even consider getting coffee at the Dunkin Donuts which did seem to be open that evening.)

Recollection of being tired but unable to close my eyes for more than a moment as my insufficiently caffeinated WBP husband navigated the dark and winding back roads leading to my parents residence in Pennsylvania (obviously we made it)  Awake for the entire white knuckle drive through post Nor’Easter slush inspite of the tryptophan coursing through my system after a wonderful Thanksgiving feast complete with both traditional and gourmet side dishes (Shaved brussel sprouts with wild mushrooms and bacon? why don’t mind if I do. Butternut squash braised in coconut milk? yes please!) Oh and no sugar infusion from desserts, as we had to say our goodbyes before the pies and brownies were served. As it was, after sincerely thanking her aunt and uncle for “making it possible for us to have a real Thanksgiving,” my daughter barely made it to the car.  She was asleep within minutes.

Sleep?  yes we had both rested on the brief drive from the PATH station in Journal Square to my brother’s house.  I know she dozed off a few times between stops on the subway ride through Manhattan after hauling her suitcase five or six blocks from the designated pickup location near the USS Intrepid where the bus from their hotel dropped the kids off to meet  parents staying in the NYC area.  I suspect my WBP Husband napped while he waited for us at the parking garage in NJ where we left our car while in the city.  It had not been easy hauling our own small suitcases through the crowds made denser by the line of protestors clustered around the blocks between Penn Station and the 33rd street PATH station.

There may have been reports on the news of a small determined band Mom propelling herself like a tank muttering something the sounded like “Happy Holidays folks, get the fork out of my way.”  If parents missed the ten minute window allowed for the drop off time their kids would return to their hotel and board the main bus caravan headed for home where, at least at my house back in Upstate NY, there wasn’t a turkey basting itself in the oven. Yup, get the fork out of my way folks,  I have a cement hard  NYC vendor pretzel in my free hand and I am not afraid to use it.

The pretzel was a rash, somewhat nostalgic choice for “breakfast” in the mad dash through the course I had plotted through NYC transit.  It was in fact so stale I never ate it, although I did wield it at a few people in my way. They wisely ran for cover. We had lingered at our prime location on the corner of 62nd Street and Central Park West a tad too long, hoping to catch the float with the Pentatonix.  The marching band would be performing their Daft Punk Medley at Herald Square. We watched as long as we could after the band marched by but had to head for our hotel a few blocks away.

Yes, ok. This is why my feet ache. It took the entire three block trek back to our hotel just south of Columbus Circle to regain feeling in my toes. My feet had become solid blocks of frozen flesh while I had been standing on the concrete curb where I had arrived five hours earlier at 5:30am. I realized I had forgotten to pack foot warmers as I was layering on warm clothes at 4am to head forth and stake out a spot for our band parents.  Because the viewing area at Herald Square was VIP ticketing only, parents had organized in small groups and spread ourselves along the parade route decked out in B’ville red and waving signs to cheer our kids on.

Our kids….the Marching Bees of the Baldwinsville Marching Band….first band from Central New York to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade…..this wasn’t a dream… it was a dream come true.


(To be continued)