Saturday, April 26, 2008


A family errand kept me from napping yesterday. I was very tired and almost didn't bother going to see the Dogwood Arts Festival Parade. Besides, the parade is usually televised, right? Well, not this year but more on that later. My trip downtown was made completely worthwhile when I saw a certain gigantic nose rounding the corner onto Gay Street (not a euphemism).

Right there, behind The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club was a copy of my favorite parade balloon ever. What a surprise! Not plane nor bird nor even frog. It was none other than Underdog!

When a bad weather forecast caused the rescheduling of the parade to last night, it pushed the event into the May television sweeps period. WVLT couldn't clear the inventory to broadcast the parade. They aired their regularly scheduled programming instead. Only Dino Cartwright, the station's promotion director, was there to announce the parade entries as they passed the reviewing stand. The April 11th parade was supposed to last an hour. Tonight's event was over in half that time. I suspect that several groups couldn't make it on the new date. The News Sentinel says that only four of the ten originally scheduled bands showed up.

Across the street from where I was, Brittany Bailey from WBIR was operating her own small camera. I guess her report on the parade is an example of the "one-man band" or "backpack journalism" we've been hearing about.

By definition a parade means road closures. My wife needed to get to the Tennessee Theatre for the second performance of the Berlioz Requiem. My son and I rode with her, which got us downtown early for the parade and the concert. Shortly after we found our spot along the parade route, a guy with a protest sign sat down next to us. He was protesting some judge over some issue related to somebody's divorce. He tried telling me about it but I couldn't make out most of what he was saying. It was like listening to Boomhauer. A festival official came over and told him that he couldn't be there. He replied "free speech." Unable to dispute that fundamental right, the parade marshal changed her tack. In rapid succession she told him that the parade wouldn't be televised, that the specific judge wouldn't be there, that it was an event for children and that this wasn't the appropriate place for his protest sign. He correctly replied that it was a public space. They left him alone after that.

Underdog wasn't the only balloon in the parade. Like last year, there was a big pink dogwood blossom. Curious George got a hole in his hand from dragging his knuckles on the street. A wind gust blew him very close to my camera which left me with a weird shot of his mouth.

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Blogger Amelia said...

For once, I didn't have to work the parade with WVLT and was going to watch it, but my dog I brought with me almost had a heart attack from the marching bands. I had to spend the whole time in Market Square after the first few groups passed through. :( Thanks for showing the pics.

Anonymous catscratch diva said...

I'm so glad to see Knoxville's downtown area coming alive during spring and summer.

I always enjoy the parades with my daughter and grandson. Sundown in the City has become something I really look forward to regardless of who might be playing any given week!

Anonymous rich said...

Your protester sounds like Ricky Davis, a guy I used to work with. He takes every chance he can get to put this judge's name on TV.

And yeah, his accent is a bit thick.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That ain't no dogwood. That's an hibiscus.


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