Every year this time, I get lots of people calling me wanting to know when the parade starts and how they sign up. I'm not sure why folks are under the misapprehension that I know what's going on, but they keep calling, and I am afraid that I have not clearly qualified well enough that I don't (or didn't) know what was going on.
So I found out. For those curious folks out at Fort Wainwright, Fairbanks, et cetera, here's the skinny:
The Fourth of July Parade: starts at noon. This is an irreverent, sometimes risqué, off-beat, and pretty impromptu event. DO NOT EXPECT: glorification of anything except a good time; child-safe language or G-rated requirements of any kind; tastefulness; respectfulness for ANY institution or individual. ON THE OTHER HAND: don't rule it out, either. Anything goes. We've had Revolutionary War soldiers, a Visqueen statue of liberty, leather-and-whip wielding fishnetted literati, giant puppets, men in drag and mops, dogs in costume, pigs in porkmobiles, fake politicians with real bribes, real politicians with fake bribes, dance troupes, couch potatoes, marching bands, gaggles of kids, horses, extremely loud firetrucks, etc. You're going to get a huge range if you come to watch our parade. It is never a serious or somber event, although the lampoons may be pointed at serious issues.
Parade check-in time: 11 am. Sign in up by Hartung Hall to get a paper plate with your number. Be prepared to give your name and the name of your character, float, or whathaveyou. This is so that once the judges have been properly bribed and made up the awards, they can identify you down at the park and present the award. Also, so the publisher of the local paper can list you and your award in the next edition of The Ester Republic!
Suggested bribes: Ester parade judges, usually drafted the night before, are eager and willing to accept bribes of all sorts. Cash is always useful, but it's a little, well, crass, so it is not often provided (and it's a little embarrassing when it is). Fine beverages, power tools, and inventively appropriate widgets or other items are the rule. (Well, I'm not actually sure that power tools have ever been used for bribes, but I've seen everything from root beer floats to books to radishes to poetry recitals by short pirates—not your typical bribery.) NOTE: one perennial award is the Best Bribe (sometimes also the Worst Bribe) award. Another coveted award that has been given several times is the Golden Banana Award. The other prizes vary hugely from year to year, and are made up on the fly.
Picnic at the park after the parade. This is a fundraiser for the Ester Community Association. It's our biggest fundraiser all year, and helps the ECA maintain the park and the community hall, pay the heating and electric bills (not cheap these days), buy goodies to feed people when they come to work parties or Cleanup Day, and so on. It is a potluck. We ask that you don't just help yourself to the food without donating something to the meal (and chips or dip don't count--please bring an actual dish of food) and/or to the ECA. The ECA sets up a table every year with a big sign and people man it to take donations; please contribute! That nice soccer field takes a lot of work and moola to keep up.
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