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I live on the ocean, write women's fiction, love to read so much that it's an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it's a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I love parades

And last Friday I did something I hadn't done in many years. I went to the PNE parade. PNE stands for Pacific National Exhibition - and it was celebrating its one hundredth birthday so, for the first time since 1995, they held a parade.

The parade was nostalgic for me - and for my Aunt Susannah - because we'd been going to the parade together from before Susannah was born. She's a year younger than me and my first parade would have been in August of the year I was born. Hers would have been in August of the following year. That amounts to almost 40 years of PNE parades for both of us.

We went before we could walk, once we were toddlers, and until the parade was cancelled in 1995. We went in the sun, seldom, and in the rain, more often than not. It's kind of a tradition in Vancouver that once the PNE starts - two weekends before Labour Day - so does the rain. But the wet never stopped us, nor did blazing hot sunshine. The whole family - that is all of the aunts and my mom and my brother and sister and my granny - all packed up pillows and blankets and hopped on the bus for downtown.

We would spend hours waiting for the parade and, once we heard the sound of the motorcycle drill teams, we were in seventh heaven.

This year's parade wasn't the same - it was much more scripted and much less fun - but it was still the PNE parade and Susannah and I still sat on the curb and clapped at the fire engines and the horses and the pipe bands. For me, though, what we missed was more than what we saw. We missed the bands, the floats, the girls in their sparkly clothes with their batons. We missed the hordes of kids and the Shriners and the clowns and the decades-old costumes.

I know it was probably tacky, but we loved it. We waited all year for the parade. We talked about it all through the long rainy winter and planned just what bus we would catch, where we would meet each other, what food we would bring and how many blankets and cushions we needed. It was a wonderful experience -
And I'm still a big fan of parades though I admit there's not a parade in the world that lives up to my memories of the PNE parade as a kid.

What's your favourite parade?


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