So fellow travelers, our band’s moment in Macy’s Parade history is about to unfold.
One thing about the illusion created by the massive character balloons is observers lose all perspective of how close things are to their actual location. It’s the same effect created by large mountains visible from a distance like Mt.Hood or Fuji. Spotting the Wimpy Kid’s broad white forehead created a flurry of activity on our corner, as parents stashed snacks and water bottles, readied signs and checked cameras. Still before we would see the Bees, there were several attractions to go including the NY Mounted Police Unit with their big blue balloon
then Dora with her new BFF pop star Becky G
followed by none other than Big Bird, Bert and Ernie. There were several band siblings very excited to see them.
and I am certain the Diary of a Wimpy Kid handlers were pleasantly startled by the enthusiastic reception our corner gave their balloon.
I heard later that the DWK handlers complimented our band staff on the quality of our kids performance of the patriotic music mix they played along the way. Each band is given a specific category of music to perform while marching and also for their Herald Square Performance. Baldwinsville was given “patriotic” for the parade and “relevant contemporary.” Huh? Well, we’ll have to wait for them to reach Herald Square to find out just what that means. Our corner came alive, voices raised in support as half a block to our north we see the school banner and a sea of red hat plumes coming our way.
“There they are!” “BEEEEEEville!” “Gooooo BEEES.” .
And then, as periodically happens, the parade paused; on our side we saw the assistant director motioning for a halt and with pinpoint precision the band stopped right within photo range. A moment which allowed me to capture this
That would be our talented daughter on the left playing bells, marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Of course my eyes got (as we say in the Bedlam Creative Group) “sweaty. ” I blinked back the tears. I knew I needed to be able to keep the shots in focus because I planned to shoot a continuous stream of photos as soon as the kids were on the move, which they were within minutes.
Last year, NY Times best selling author Jon Katz wrote a reflection about the difference between photographing and experiencing an event. It grew out of watching the members of the Creative Group he started online armed with cameras recording every moment of the Open House held twice a year at Bedlam Farm II. As I prepared to gather with my friends last autumn I intentionally challenged myself to commit to “camera free” periods when I could be fully present. It did not take long to realize the richness of those experiences far surpassed the chagrin of missing a “photo op.” Besides, any number of my Bedlam friends would eventually post photos of anything I didn’t capture. So as I stood on that street corner in New York City, having captured some great shots as the band held steady I lowered my camera and breathed in the moment, trying to meld its memory into every fiber of my being.
I looked, really looked at our daughter trying to memorize the bright red of her plume, the silver shine of those very heavy bells, the deep concentration in her expression, the pink glow of her frigid fingers, the ramrod stance of her friends in the lines around her.
And just as my heart felt it would burst into tears that could not be held back, I heard the drum major call for the band to march and she raised her mallets to play again
and march they did, waving their flags
playing their hearts out
line by line
section by section
color guard bringing up the rear
followed by their instructors and the band staff
onward to their soon to be televised performance at Herald Square.