Don't judge until you've walked a mile in new shoes

Published 2:40 am Wednesday, January 19, 2005

By Staff
Lee Weyhrich
I've lived all over Alabama, spent the first few years of my life in Illinois and, barring the Macy's Parade I watch on turkey day each year, I don't believe I have ever seen a parade with more cars in it than I saw here at the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, Monday.
The turnout for the parade was a lot bigger than I expected.
The last parade I went to was a Christmas parade in another small town. The whole thing was over faster than that Joe Millionaire guy's career.
This parade was totally different though. These tired feet marched the parade route from start to finish in a new pair of shoes and I have the pictures and blisters to prove it (but fortunately no pictures of my blisters).
There had to be hundreds of people and cars lining from one end of the horizon to the other. Dr. King's family would have been proud.
My poor feet pounded concrete for more than two hours. But despite the sore feet, this parade experience was a lot more successful for me than previous experiences.
Most of my parade experience involves Christmas parades.
When I was little it seems like I was always in some Christmas parade somewhere, and each experience was an adventure.
The first time I was in a parade I was in Centre in the northern part of this state. The city had constructed this elaborate float with a big hollow fiberglass Christmas tree that was made so an adult could stand inside it, poke his or her arms and head out of some portholes and wave at the crowds.
My dad was a friend of the mayor, and the mayor wanted a lot of little children to ride on the float. I was four years old at the oldest, so I got the job.
I'll leave out the finer details, but 30 seconds after getting on the float my feet were hanging out of the face hole and two or three other pre-pre-schoolers were attempting to dislodge me by dangling from my pants. I felt like Winnie the Pooh.
The second time I was in a parade I was in pre-school. A float had been set up to look like a home complete with a fireplace and a little old lady sitting in a rocking chair reading a story book. Our pre-school class was supposed to dress in the most old fashioned looking pajamas our parents could dig up so we could be featured on the float.
My mother dressed me in a pair of those pajamas with the built-in-foot-thingies and the flap in the rear. We were also supposed to bring our blankets to keep us warm as we pretended to listen to the grandma read "bed time stories" to us.
She really only told one story and it didn't have a plot or anything. It went something like "Stop playing with that, sit down, stop picking that, sit down, be quiet, sit down, you should have thought of that before, sit down, Sit Down." But I may be wrong.
I passed out asleep in the middle of the parade and the middle of the story, all snuggled up with my blankey.
I don't know if I fell asleep because of how late it was or the story. My mother liked to tell me the "sit down, stop that" story in church so the lady's story was pretty much a rerun.
About three years later I marched in the Gadsden parade with my Cub Scout troop. Our marching skills were more "cockroaches when the lights turn on" than they were military precision. Luckily my mother, our scout leader, was there to make sure none of us got stuck in anything or fell asleep. Not that I would or anything, but you never could tell about the rest of those scouts.
I'm happy to say I didn't get lost or stuck in anything Monday during the MLK parade, but I sure did sleep well that night.
Lee Weyhrich is the Managing Editor of the Atmore Advance. His column appears on Wednesdays.

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