Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Never Say Never

By Connie S. Hall

Everyone loves a parade. That is everyone except my husband. If there is a parade, it normally kicks off a celebration. They liven up the community, and generate goodwill. I think they attract people the same as flowers attract bees.

My father looked forward to them every year. As a child I can remember watching him and several scouts ride in the back of a truck flipping pancakes during the July 4th Parade in Provo. As a teenager, I did somersaults down the same street. The thing I remember most about that is how hot the asphalt was.

Many years before camping overnight became popular along the parade route, you would see my father sitting in a chair saving his family a seat for the fun event on July 24. I cherish the long discussions we had sitting up all night. By morning, I was too tired to watch. Now, I’m one of those crazy people camping out. This year as I wait I’m going to write. I’ve started a book about parades and sure wish I had been keeping notes. Since I didn’t, I have to rely on my bad memory.

Several years ago, our stake assigned me to supervise the building of a float for the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City, Utah. After it was over I said, “No one should ever have to build more than one float in a lifetime.”

That is still the way I feel about it, but others don’t agree. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints rotates the assignment yearly to various stakes to join in this fun event. Every five or six years if you live in the Salt Lake valley, it comes back to you.

They also have each stake participate in a youth parade. I have helped with this smaller one many times and one year we built the float in my yard. There was brown and green paint on the driveway for years. I didn’t know then that paint was good, it’s better than glitter hanging around forever. After working on a big float, we had a sparkly yard. Whenever I pulled weeds there was another shiny little speck. The big lesson I learned is never do it in your own yard.

Once you have experience, the local church leaders don’t let you off the hook. I honestly thought I would never have to help with anything like this ever again. In my wildest dreams I was sure they wouldn’t ask me to do this another time. I told them, “I never want to do that again.”

They dissolved our stake and now I belong to a new stake. My reputation followed me, and because I said I would never build another float, when the assignment came, they asked me to be co-chair and help. I guess to our stake president that made sense. My parents taught me when I was young that I should do all the things my leaders asked me to do and never say no. Being second-in-command was as hard as when I was in charge. There was as much work, but you didn’t have to make the final decision.

Building a float is a good experience, but it’s also a difficult undertaking. Far too often people sit back and let everyone else do all the work. One thing I can say is the friendships developed while undertaking something this big are lasting. Those who worked with me side-by-side are the best. They will always have a place in my heart.

Guess what? I’m building another float. This year I’m helping my community. My parents are to blame again because they taught me you should always serve those in your neighborhood. I may have to find another home because my husband isn’t happy about this. I’m not worried, my mother has an extra bed, and there is a couch at my work.

I think this new adventure will help me with the book I’m writing. My mother says, “I’ll bet your father is up in heaven clapping his hands, and jumping up and down because he loved parades. He’ll be glad you are doing this.” After this comment how can I say NO?

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