Thanksgiving Day Parade

Eric Novack



Two weeks before the parade I told my girlfriend Andie that she would have to dress really warm for the parade. The next day I reminded her to dress really warm for the parade. And the day after that… I told her to dress really warm for the parade. I know I annoyed her by telling her the same thing day after day after day, but there is one thing that I will not tolerate at the Thanksgiving Day Parade: complaints from those around me that it is cold. Of course it's cold. It's supposed to be cold. Year after year after year, millions of Detroiters go downtown to stand and freeze for a few hours to be part of this annual tradition.

The morning of the parade, Andie and I left our cozy little house in the Boston Edison District and drove downtown. She complained a number of times about being too hot. She even had the audacity to open the car window. We parked in the structure right behind the Compuware Building in the heart of Detroit. Only a block away Andie and I stopped at Café Detroit across the street from the Skillman Library. Inside the warm confines of the coffee house we ordered a couple of cafés and breakfast croissants and snagged a copy of the New York Times. Once we were sufficiently nourished and warmed, Andie and I departed for the parade.

We found ourselves a nice little spot in the grandstands near the end of the parade route amidst newly renovated buildings and a rejuvenated business district. We still had an hour or so until the parade would be coming past. To pass the time Andie and I stood and talked and cuddled and talked some more and made friends with the people around us. We were standing next to one couple, and the husband John gladly agreed to take our picture. From time to time during the parade I looked over in John's direction and saw him and his wife nestled together. It was like looking in a mirror in a way. We both smiled at one another in recognition of the other's good fortune.

Andie and I also met a gentlemen from Lansing with his five children. At first the children complained about the cold. He simply told them with an authoritative and smooth reproach, "I've been telling you for two weeks now to dress warm." Andie kissed my cheek and whispered in my ear "Sounds familiar." However, once the parade started the children never complained - they simply were too busy cheering and smiling to think about the cold.

Although the children enjoyed the sights and sounds of the parade, I was not so easily impressed. I don't know, the sight of several partially inflated balloon characters, singers that can't sing, high school bands lacking in enthusiasm (at least by the tail end of the parade), and dancers that walked too much like hookers just doesn't do it for me these days. But….there was at least the float that came by and passed out candy which I cheered for right along with all the kids. (Funny thing is that the Romans used to do the same thing for Caesar….Oh, wouldn't you know it, here comes Kwame!)

While Andie and I may not have been overwhelmed with the parade itself, we were thrilled with the feeling we got from the people around us. We actually felt a little….loved. As we left the parade the guy from Lansing shook my hand and said, "I hope we get to stand next to you two next year." Well Mr. Lansing, the feeling's mutual.

Oh, by the way, we left the parade early. Why you ask? Why stand and freeze for two hours and then leave before you even get the chance to see Santa Claus? Because I got cold that's why. On the way home Andie suggested I dress a little warmer next year.

Eric Novack is the author of "Killing Molly," founder of Elitist Publications, and…lit section editor.

Couples photos by Eric and Andie (and John), Band photo by Vince Mariani, Fish float by Nick Sousanis

© 2002