I am a graduate of Michigan State University (if you have not already guessed) and have lived in the greater Lansing area for the better part of 27 years. In all that time, I had never once attended the MSU Homecoming Parade...until this Friday, that is. I really had a good time (except for the parts where I had to make sure my kids didn't get by a car trying to get from our car to the parade, and the parts where I had to temper my kids' ravenous appetite for the candy being thrown from the paraders).
A few weeks ago, while watching an episode of the childrens show "Oswald" with my younger son, Oswald and his friends attend (and maybe even become part of--I don't remember precisely) a parade. My son immediately decided that he wanted to see a parade. My mind raced through a list of potential parades and, lo and behold, struck upon the Homecoming parade. "There's a parade next month, and we can go to that one," I said to my son. Later, I told my wife that "we should take the kids to the Homecoming parade." (I should probably include myself as one of "the kids").
We seem to have a habit in our family of saying that we're going to do something, but not actually following through with it when the time comes. I particularly have a hard time of doing family outings on Friday nights. I find that I'm so tired from the work week that I don't feel like fighting crowds and would prefer to stay at home. This time, however, we followed through on our plan. It was all dependent on what mood the kids were in when we picked them up from my in-laws (who, bless them, are our childcare providers when my wife and I are at work). The kids were in reasonably non-cranky moods, the sun was out, the temperature was a crisp 50 degrees or so, and we decided to head into East Lansing for the parade.
We found a place to park on Charles Street, just south of Burcham, and made the three-block trek to Abbott Road. With two rambunctious boys, even the seemingly routine task of walking a few blocks can be an adventure, but I'm happy to report that we made it to the parade route with everyone intact. We found a spot in front of the Lutheran Church on Abbot Road. This was a good location, because my younger son had to go to the bathroom twice. Thankfully the church was open and were generous in allowing us to use their facilities. My son even received a free hot dog after his second trip to the loo).
The parade lasted much longer than I expected, about one hour and fifteen minutes. The Spartan Marching Band was outstanding as usual (I always get a chill down my spine when I see them perform), the floats were amateurish but generally cute and occasionally clever, and the Muskegon High School Marching Band is probably the best high school band I've ever seen. Those kids have got some soul! Our kids scored more candy than they'll probably receive on Halloween, and the vibe in the air was extremely friendly and festive. If I have anything to do with it, we'll definitely be going to next year's Homecoming parade. (Oh yeah, we also saw my niece in the parade with her Girl Scout troop). For a city the size of East Lansing (40,000 and change), there is truly a small town feel that I have grown to appreciate more as I've gotten older.
Afterwards, we got Chinese takeout at my favorite local Chinese joint, Lucky House in Okemos, so it was a great topper to a fun Friday evening (and I hope I haven't bored everyone to tears!).