Saturday 30 Jul 2016

The Last Parade
David Simmonds

Could Wellington have seen its last parade?


"You fellows got all kinds of high risk activities taking place right on top of one another."

That is the gloomy view prognosticators are taking following the County’s review of its policy on the engagement of volunteers. For example, it doesn’t want volunteers clearing trees with chainsaws, which they untrained properly to operate: the limbs they sever might include their own.

Now, the risk management sweep has lighted upon the recent Wellington Christmas parade. “Where shall I start?” said one County official, who declined to speak on the record. “You’ve got all kinds of high risk activities taking place right on top of one another. It’s going to send our insurance premium to you know where in a handbasket if we let things go on like this.

The worst case was when we had a truckload of Wellington on the Lake residents standing up on the flatbed and tooting away on their kazoos. One sudden move and they’re all over the road. I just shudder to think of the damages: broken arms and chipped teeth, never mind the cost of replacing two dozen high performance kazoos.

“The first thing they’re going to do is come after us for not making them sit down and strap in. We’re always the guys who are accused of raining on everyone’s parade, until something bad happens; and then when it does, the politicians blame us and say ‘why didn’t you do something to prevent this?’ Humbug!”


Officials are always afraid of the Shriners riding little bicycles all which ways.

The official also noted he was worried about Shriners riding around back and forth on miniatur e motorcycles against the flow of traffic. “Some of those fellows have got quite a few miles on them, so their reaction time isn’t as quick as it once might have been. So does that stuffed camel they use on their float. What happens if it topples over and they can’t outmanoeuvre a falling dromedary? One hump or two, it doesn’t matter: they’re going to come after us.”

Our source worries about spectators as well. “What if a young child from a Major Urban Centre is traumatized after seeing a horse answer the call of nature right in front of her? Are we going to be paying for a lifetime of therapy? Did you notice all the peppermint candy canes they handed out; some poor kid is going to be trampled to death in the rush to pick them up. Then some marcher in the parade is going to get hit in the eye when the candy canes are thrown back.”

Our frustrated friend also noted that the parade route from the Essroc arena to Consecon Street was a fair distance to march; perhaps participants, with the exception of veterans, whom he wouldn’t want to insult, should be required to produce a medical clearance in order to be eligible to participate.

The official also shrugged in despair when someone suggested that horses, antique engines, muscle cars, fire trucks, bagpipes, baton twirlers and EZ-ROK 98.8 cars were a combustible mix. “Just think what might happen with bagpipes alone. A cat in a nearby house gets spooked, knocks over a plant, which triggers an alarm, which causes an emergency call, which can’t be answered because the parade’s in the way, which causes the cat to bring down the curtains, which somehow starts a real fire, which spreads to the whole neighbourhood and then to the whole village. Hundreds are homeless, all because a parade is supposed to have bagpipes. Can anyone show me the regulation that says there have to be bagpipes?

“At a minimum, everyone, no exceptions, should be wearing a hard hat and steel toed boots. When I say ‘everyone,’ does everyone have to participate? Why can’t they just limit the parade group to those whose presence is strictly necessary? Santa Claus, I grant you, may be important, but the rest of them? I doubt it.


Speaking of Santa, I look at the way his sleigh fastens onto the flatbed and I say, to myself, "There’s an accident waiting to happen. That’s before he even gets near a chimney."

Speaking of Santa, I look at the way his sleigh fastens onto the flatbed and I say, to myself, ‘There’s an accident waiting to happen. That’s before he even gets near a chimney.’ You can scoff at me all you want, but put Santa on the disabled list right before Christmas Eve and all of a sudden you’re looking at a class action suit against the County and every boy and girl in the world is up to receive compensation! Does Prince Edward County really want to be the place that admits, in court, that that there isn’t a Santa Claus, at least not this year, because we couldn’t be bothered to insist on minimal safety standards?”

Yes, the future of parades in Wellington is looking bleak. Look on the bright side. What with public servants as imaginative and as vigilant as our anonymous source, at least we’re keeping insurance costs down. Those who were cheering for a tax increase will still have water rates to count on. Humbug indeed.

 

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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