Teri Orr: As the parade passes by…
I always think of them as rugby roses. You can see them this week now all over town — those wild, short-lived bursts of color and surprise. They manage to grow in-between rocks and on trails and up the sides of porches. When I moved here in ’79 and experienced my first 4th of July parade, Park City-style, the roses came as a surprise.
The night before the parade there was some secret ceremonial gathering from hills and front yards by the wacky guys who made up the local rugby team. And on parade day (which back then had less than 10 entries) the rugby "float" — aka big construction truck — was filled with singing players and the yellow wild roses. As the truck rolled down the street they would toss out armloads of the bright flowers. By the end of the short parade, the street was a sea of yellow.
Later there would be a fierce game in the park against some team with Tongans who were always larger than our largest players. Victory traded teams enough that the competition was fierce and we all crowded the sidelines to cheer our support. With beer. Kegs from Evanston — smuggled-in beer. Those current World Cup fans coulda learned a thing or two about raw enthusiasm from us.
So when I saw the roses this week in full bloom in front of perfect porches at a tony hotel in town, I got the giggles. I could only imagine what a midnight easy harvest of those flowers might have occurred, right about now, if those rugby guys saw such plentiful pickins.
And it reminded me… the parades in the ’80s were some of our best work as a fun-loving town.
The Rotary Club (there was only one then and it didn’t "allow" women) decided it would be a great occasion for all those guys who owned riding lawn mowers to form a precision drill team. They called themselves The Rotary Mowers. They rode down the street and displayed some maneuvers and tossed fresh grass clippings out to the crowd. Out front was a lone woman (Pamela) with a weed eater as a baton. They were a clear crowd favorite that year.
Another year/another parade was the marching band called the Kazooms. It was made up entirely of women (older than 50, I recall) with inflated balloon breasts in tight red T-shirts and they played kazoos and had a male baton leader. They returned for a couple of years.
The professional women with their briefcases, opening and closing in formation, between legs, tossed backwards and forwards, wearing short skirts and high heels was very well received. Even if we did all end up with blisters by the end of the route.
The Night Riders were a hat tip to our colorful past and the most beautiful Ladies of the Night (and a few good men who appreciated them) rode their horses bareback down the street… until they got to the Alamo (now the No Name Saloon) and then they rode right in for a drink.
Which also happened to an entry from KPCW one parade. The newly formed radio station had a group called The Barking Spider Band. I don’t remember much about them except they had a circle of people trying to hold up some kind of circle banner and they kept bumping into one another. They too just left formation, ended their march at the Alamo and walked right up to the bar.
The historic Deer Valley Does were the name given to Ladies of the Night from the railroad days and each year those women were painted up and dressed in historic floozy clothes. They rode on the trolley, once we had one. Their pre-game Bloody Marys were legendary.
In my daughter’s end to high school as they were headed off to college, she and her friends wanted to enter in the parade. They called themselves Really Royals and made satin sashes and wore ball gowns with gloves and had a handsome young man, shirtless, drive them down the street in a convertible Bug. They had made up elaborate cards for the judges to read about the contests they had competed in to win their titles. They wore tiaras and tossed something, candy? I really don’t remember, out to the crowd. In the absence of any local pageants back then, they mocked the whole idea.
They had a very, very good time. They won the Best of Show trophy that year. Yes, I was editor of the paper. I’m certain these facts are unrelated.
Now, of course, legalities don’t allow the great key chains and rulers and beach ball giveaways of yesteryear. The giant water guns that turned out and squirted, hell doused, the crowd. The kids hanging off fire trucks. The police jeep doesn’t roll down the street anymore and invite folks to hop in and out for a few blocks. Those days are gone. The Kazooms deflated at least a decade ago. And I can’t imagine all the inspections/infractions that would ensue today if a horse walks into a bar. (Which sounds like the start of really old joke.)
Here’s what I am certain of… the parade will draw thousands this week, not the dozens of yesteryear. Little children will wave flags and eat dripping ice cream cones and a few of us will lift a glass, where a bush of wild yellow roses wraps through a wood weathered porch. There is much to celebrate this Sunday in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the organization that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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