Be in a parade to add to summer fun: It’s free

Back in high school I played the flute badly, but good enough to put me in my town’s parades in the marching band. Deciding that the flute was too prissy for some reason, my junior year, I took up baritone saxophone. I thought it would be swell to carry that in the St. Patrick’s Day parade one year. Not a chance. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Happily, I gave up the baritone saxophone as well, but have found myself jumping into a few parades in less taxing capacities. If you have never been in a parade, it’s not hard. Seriously, this can be a no skills endeavor and one the whole family can enjoy doing. Plus, it’s FREE.

Whenever we are in Philipsburg, Montana we are in the kid’s parade as part of Flint Creek Valley Days. My son wears the same Spider-man hat each year.

On the 4th of July, my son and I were in an art car truck in the Doo Dah Parade. I received an email from Greg Phelps who helps organize the art car movement in Columbus and beyond. He wanted people to be in the guitar truck playing toy guitars. My son has a toy guitar so what could be easier than that?

This picture was taken by Greg Phelps who was driving the truck as we were on High Street going through the Short North section of Columbus.

Since it was raining, I suggested we set up the patio umbrella in the truck bed. I kept my foot on the base to keep it from tipping. The only other people in the back of the truck with me were my son and a third grade boy. The two of them flashed peace signs and yelled, “Peace out!” in between fake guitar playing.

The fun thing about being in a parade is the view of the crowds. I saw several friends who I hadn’t seen otherwise. Greg also took this picture. That’s his art car in the front that someone else was driving. You can see downtown Columbus in the distance.

If you have a hankering to be in a parade yourself, think about a cause you believe in and see if that organization has a group who is walking in the parade. Join up with them. I’ve walked with the Human Rights Campaign in the Gay Pride Parade three different years.

You could also put on a pair of roller blades and put on a funny hat and large sunglasses. People will think you’re swell. How about putting an outfit on your pet and pulling your pet in a decorated kid’s wagon?

Of course you could become a celebrity like Kent Couch who just traveled in his balloon lawn chair 200 miles. He was in a parade in Eugene, Oregon.

My suggestion to jazz up the fun. Buy a big bag of candy to throw some out. That gives people a thrill. We didn’t have candy, but next year, I’m planning on throwing out small plastic toys to fit the art car theme.

Best American Cities to Retire: A Pleasant, but not Surprising Find

Columbus, Ohio is listed as a city that has the best neighborhood as a place to retire. It’s actually first on AOL’s money and finance list. And to think I almost already live in the Short North. I could walk there if I felt like it. I’m not surprised about the Short North. It is my favorite section of the city, and, in a life without kids, I’d probably live there myself. What surprises me about the report is the comment “Not much in the way of nature around Columbus.”

WHAT!!! There are parks galore in the Columbus MetroPark system that rings the city. Because of its proximity to I-70, I-71, I-670 and 315, The Short North is about a 20 minutes drive from at least four of them. Most of the parks have programs every week and there are biking, hiking and picnic area shelters at each. At least three of them have nature centers. A few weeks ago we went on a 3 1/2 mile hike called Howl at the Moon at one of them. This was a dog and kid friendly event that took us through woods and around fields bursting with fall wildflowers. The park system if fabulous and it’s FREE.

Then there is the mention that downtown has nothing to do. WHAT!!!

Last night I had a double header, both events spur of the moment. The first was a FREE happy hour at the Southern Theatre, the oldest theater in Ohio. It opened 1896 and was restored in the late 1990s making it one of Columbus’s best architectural gems. This event included wine, beer, food and a ProMusica concert. ProMusica is Columbus’s chamber orchestra. The event was a kick-off to entice subscribers. There was a buy one get one free deal. I’m now a subscriber. On the way home, I asked my husband to swing by the Palace Theatre, another downtown architectural delight, so I could see if there was at least one David Sedaris tickets left. Eureka! A man who was waiting by the box-office to get rid of a ticket, sold me one for $10. After dropping my husband off at home, I drove back, parked for $5 and ended up sitting 8 rows back from the stage in the center of the row. After it was over, I chatted with David (as did all the other people waiting in line) and was back home 10 minutes after David said, “Nice to see you again.” I saw him last year as well.

On Thursday night, I had a conflict so I wasn’t able to go to the opening of the Monet exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art. Also FREE for members. I’m a member. Oh, and where is the art museum? DOWNTOWN. The thing about Columbus is that there are so many things to do that it’s hard to choose. Today I’m going to the opening of Paul Busse’s train exhibit at the Franklin Park Conservatory which is close to DOWNTOWN. It’s not free but I have a buy one get one free admission, and tonight may head to a movie. One of the theaters I like to go to is DOWNTOWN. Still, if I was retiring, I’d pick the Short North and get out more.