Opinion

Hodge: Setting the judging standards for Rutland May Days parade

So here is a scary thought. The Gazillianth annual Rutland May Days Parade kicks off the fun filled family festival on Saturday, May 19 and I am one of the three parade judges.

When parade organizer Chris Brown asked if I would ‘act as a judge,’ I quickly said yes, for three reasons.

First and foremost, Chris Brown is a gem of a person and I’d do anything to support a cause he is involved with.

Second, it’s a real honour to be involved in May Days once again in some way.

And third, Chris said ‘act’ as a judge, which of course I can do.

Acting is easy for a genetically inclined class clown like me. Doing a good job is a whole other kettle of fish.

Sure, I can act as a parade judge. After all I managed to act as a city councillor for three years and occasionally I was the ‘acting’ mayor so I clearly have a recent history of responsible acting work.

Regardless, I digress. I jumped at the offer to assist. About an hour later, of course, the reality of what I had agreed to do really hit me. What do I know about judging a parade?

I started to panic and then calmed myself down with rational logic (stuff I learned at summer camp for city councillors).

“Okay, granted, I have watched a number of parades over the years both on TV and live,” I assured myself.

Then, “Yes, I have actually been in several parades when on city council here and in Parksville, so I have experience. I have even got the wave thing down now—and the very important art of tossing candies without hurting anyone, including pets.”

Yet despite my positive energy and visualizing efforts, the same little doubt kept creeping back —what the hell do you really know about ‘judging’ a parade?

I was not fooling myself. I may have been a judge in music contests – because I sort of know music. But parades? Nothing!

When I first agreed to the task with Chris I had no knowledge who the other judges were, however, I was at least confident ‘they’ would know their stuff about parades.

Now I am not so sure.

Just about as scary as choosing me as judge is the selection of yet another writer—a unique, wacko-witty character named Lori Welbourne.

Have the good folks at Rutland May Day’s lost their senses?

Parades are serious stuff. Millions of folks watch parades in New York, Chicago, Pasadena…however, parades can be even more serious in smaller places like Vernon, Falkland or Rutland, where often there are more folks participating in the parade than watching it.

Yup, watching a parade can be serious stuff, certainly riding in one can be. But judging one? Man, that’s king of the mountain serious and intense.

Intentionally putting Lori Welbourne and Charlie Hodge together as a team of judges, in a public place, near microphones? Heck, even I am nervous about it.

Thankfully, not all is lost as the third judge on the panel is the sensible and responsible Scott Ross, secretary of the Rutland Residents’ Association. Lori and I are counting on Scott for some sanity here.

However, before a full sense of relief overwhelms readers, consider this.

There has not been any parade judges at May Days for a long, long time so there is no judging criteria to use.

Therefore, Chris told me I (and I alone) am responsible for deciding the rules.

Really?

Seriously?

Me?

Naturally, I am taking this amazing challenge very serious and have spent quite a while contemplating what the rules should be.

After all, this is not something one should just rush into without keen consideration.

I have asked a few folks their thoughts and Teresa has actually researched ‘rules’ for me on the web.

I even Googled the words ‘parade rules’ myself and discovered way too much information—so I stopped that idea right away.

I did not want to mess with my own creative inspirations.

Yes folks, I have spent a fair bit of time on this assignment already and am moving carefully forward.

So far, the only rule that has really jumped out as a champion sort of idea is, “There will be absolutely, positively no running with scissors.”

I think that is a good start, and sets a ‘no-nonsense’ sort of tone right off the bat.

I know it is a rule that has been used before but it just makes so much sense—so it has to be a keeper.

After that, well, I am still pretty much in the analysing and data collection point.

However, do not worry. Lori, Scott, and Chris and I will have all the parade rules figured out by parade time.

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