Cubicle Post reporter Scott Pukos details his ride on the Canandaigua July 4 parade float.
“I’m on float!” — To the tune of “I’m on a Boat” by The Lonely Island (Featuring T-Pain)
The tractor jerked forward, and I nearly lost my balance.
The sound of a trumpet playing taps echoed throughout the clear Canandaigua sky just as I regained my composure, and took my seat on the city of Canandaigua centennial float. I rode shotgun with former mayor Earl Coleates. Well, actually, I was more in the back seat of the float — hidden behind the image of the top of City Hall triumphantly bursting out of a (wedding?) cake. (Seriously, the float did look great. High-fives to those who worked on it. As a former Odyssey of the Mind world champion, I can comment with authority on things like this.)
Kyle Saddler of the parks department operated the tractor and served as our float driver during the nice July 4 morning. When Kyle got the go-ahead, we moved forward, past the Ontario County Courthouse, and turned the corner to head south down Main Street.
Earl flexed his waving hand, and I made sure my beard was looking sharp. The band played a song that was disappointingly not the Team America theme. City Council members gathered candy to hand out, and the crowd came into view.
This was it. Parade time.
Journey to the parade
Last week my boss asked me if I wanted to ride along on the city’s float. I laughed at first, then realized she was serious. After thinking about it, I figured this could be fun. I mean, how many times to you get to tag along on a centennial float? Probably four or five times, tops, would you get an opportunity like this. So I took it.
Mayor Ellen Polimeni told me 9 a.m. would be a good time to arrive near the courthouse where parade people were gathering. When I got there, I chatted up people in other floats. I even met someone dressed like Paul Revere. And yes, I asked him where he got the outfit. So, good news, I’ll be wearing a 1776 vest, pointed hat, knee socks, and a musket holster next year. I may add an American eyepatch and arrange to have a bald eagle perched on my shoulder as well.
I later met up with the mayor and City Council members. They were all marching, handing out candy, etc. during the parade. I would have tried to jump off the float and snag some video of this marching, but that would have almost certainly led to either disaster or embarrassment for me (tripping off the float would have been real easy).
Before the parade, I did ask if I could throw candy. I was told it was a liability. That’s understandable, no one wants me winding up and delivering a tootsie roll fastball at their teeth. So remember this: I did not have candy with me! (Side note: When exactly was candy throwing outlawed? And how did it start? Can Morgan Spurlock do a documentary on this?)
At one point in the parade, a lady came up to me — her eyes filled with hope — and asked me for some of that sweet, sweet candy. Again, I had zero sweets on me. I was sitting on a cooler of bottled waters, but that was it.
“Candy,” she again begged; a hint of Oliver Twist in her voice.
While I could have maniacally laughed at her, or chomped on my own candy like a villain, or hurled a water bottle in her direction, I chose not to. (Note: Though, I didn’t remember at the time, I did have one magical sugary, lemon wedge in my shirt pocket. It was delightful.)
Instead I shrugged and waved. Her smile drooped. She turned away dejected, and muttered, loudly: “loser.”
By her reaction you would think I answered her by waving an edible middle finger made of a Twix bar and a candy apple in her face.
I didn’t see any children with her, so her disappointment was quite vexing. I could see being bummed out if you couldn’t give your child a sweet tart, or roll of tootsie, but this was not the case. I guess she is just REALLY a fan of inexpensive candy being tossed onto dirty pavement. I imagine she thinks that anyone who stands in the way of her obtaining ground candy is a vile fiend who probably enjoys vegetables more than Laffy Taffy.
Anyway, I hope she eventually got her candy. (Just kidding, I hope she just got empty wrappers.)
Earl: The man
Clearly, I wasn’t real popular. (Another person shouted at me: “You’re IN A PARADE. Put the camera down.”).
Earl, on the other hand, was the toast of the parade. I can see why too, because he’s awesome.
From the beginning to the end, people shouted “Hey Earl!” or “How ya doing, Earl?!” Stuff like that. After we were done, he told me his arm was tired from all the waving. It was this point where I realized I probably should have waved more. A rookie parade mistake, I’m sure (then again, I was there to work, not wave).
He also had a giant sign that said his name, which definitely boosted popularity. Signs with the names of two other former mayors — Pat Boland and Dick McGavern, both with tenures in the 1980s — were next to my feet. I can tell this confused some people, when they saw “Richard McGavern, Mayor 1985-1986,” and then saw me sitting there.
Hopefully, I convinced people that either I am indeed a former mayor, who suffers from Benjamin Button disease, or that I was a baby mayor (CBS has done a “Baby Mayor” sitcom right? I feel they have).
Either way, Earl was a superstar. No way I could have matched his charm and energy. The only thing that would have made him even cooler would be if he halted the parade and delivered the epic “Today we celebrate our Independence Day!” speech Bill Pullman makes in the movie “Independence Day.”
Good thing I’ll have my Paul Revere/patriot/bald eagle outfit next year. That’ll up my popularity for sure.
Or I’ll just bring a candy bazooka. That should make everyone happy.
Every parade has to come to an end
It’s hard to notice when you’re either driving or riding on a float, but the parade route is a pretty long walk. Kudos to those marching/walking/handing out candy. I felt especially like a nuisance as I slowly rode by people working hard in the sun, smirked, then took their picture.
Speaking of it being a long walk, as we rolled by the McDonald’s in Parkway Plaza (a funny sight for sure, I hope someone took a break from eating nuggets to grab a picture), I realized that my car was near City Hall. I enjoy walking, and it was nice out (no rain yet), so it wouldn’t be too bad; however, I did have pictures, video and a story to file. So, I was thankful for the city employee who drove me and Earl back up toward where the parade started. I parted ways with Earl (and if you need any more reason to know why he’s awesome, he makes home-made bolt action pens #awesome), and started walking toward my car.
After crossing the street, I started to approach a man holding several bags. He was also wearing a glorious American flag hat. I asked if he needed help with the bags, and he politely said “no thanks.”
Another man passed him on the sidewalk, smiled, and said “Hey, Uncle Sam!”
The man in the flag hat smiled but kept up his brisk pace. “Yes. Happy Fourth of July to you too, sir,” he said.
I got in my car, and remembered the lemon candy in my pocket. I tore open the wrapper and consumed it in one bite as the patriotic man continued down the sidewalk.
Happy Fourth of July, indeed.