Today was the third year I’ve gotten the chance to attend (and second to blog) the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Kingdom Day Parade here in Los Angeles. Although it is a very big parade, it feels very local, as it takes place just a few miles from where I live and teach. I often run into folks I know from my school community at the parade. The high school bands, the local unions, the gospel concert in the park, are some of the things that make this one of the coolest ways to honor a truly great man.
Last year’s blog post about the parade was one of my longest ever, so to spare you all the misery of reading pages of rambling thoughts, I’ve decided to simply record the three most exciting moments of the parade.
#3. Marching what?!?! Most marching bands are pretty straight-forward in their approach: Conductor, color-guard, wind instruments, brass instruments, perhaps an electric bass (should they be feeling a bit saucy), and the percussion team, followed by the drill team. Yet one school today decided to completely rock it out with a marching orchestra! Yep, a marching orchestra, the coolest part of which was clearly this cellist who was able to simultaneously provide the thick low string sound needed, while carrying this incredibly cumbersome instrument.
#2. Giving the bosses a piece of my mind. Last year, LAUSD superintendent Brewer rode in the parade. Less than one year later, he is out of a job, and the current Superintendent Ramon Cortines was nowhere to be found today. However, at one point in the parade, I looked up and to my surprise saw State Superintendent of Education Jack O’Connell riding in the parade. The bosses boss! Not wanting to miss an opportunity to plant seeds with people who can make decisions, I ran up to his car, introduced myself to him as an LAUSD teacher and told him quite simply “We’ve got to end social promotion”. He shook my hand and replied, “I’m with you, but the budget’s a mess”. Unfortunately, he’s right. What perhaps surprised me the most (and what I didn’t realize until after this incident, and thus regret not actually meeting) was the gentleman sitting right in front of Superintendent O’Connell, Dodger legend Maury Wills.
#1. Deadly Chipmunks. At any parade, the local police and fire department play a large role in both security as well as displaying their own force and (dare I say, gala). Not only are we lucky enough to have the LAPD, as well as the County Sheriffs, but we are also served by the amazing California Highway Patrol (CHP), which spawns both safe drivers and silly television shows. What I did not know before today is that they actually have a mascot, a giant Chipmunk. Now first of all, it’s a little bit freaky that a law enforcement organization has a cute, furry mascot, but what’s perhaps more alarming is that this cute and furry chipmunk was armed. This begs the question of what would it look like if this chipmunk ever had to use his weapon. I’m sure that having a giant Chipmunk mask on your head doesn’t do much for an officer’s aim. Or maybe, just like football players, this officer practices and trains with his chipmunk head on.