Parade rainout doesn’t stop dancers

Published 8:21 pm Tuesday, December 19, 2017

short rows

There are a few life rules that are pretty solidly fixed in my aging brain. Some were driven home when I was a kid and some have developed over the years that I’ve been privileged to be associated with a community newspaper.

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In my youth I learned to brush daily, wash behind my ears, eat at least some of everything put on my plate, look both ways before crossing the road, be respectful of older people and know that my teachers were always right — at least, in my mother’s eyes, which was all that counted.

During my modest but long career as a community journalist I’ve learned to get obituaries right — and humbly apologize when you don’t. I’ve learned that some local government officials and politicians will never be happy when you write about them — and will never be happy when you don’t.

I’ve also learned never, ever to get in the way of mothers whose children are involved in sports, dance or other activities. That rule was reinforced this past week when the mothers of children in our various dance studios, majorette units and bands were told that not only was Smithfield’s popular Christmas parade cancelled but that it would not be rescheduled.

“Sorry folk, maybe next year” was not an answer these ladies were willing to accept. Parents had paid for costumes, their children and grandchildren had practiced for months for the parade, which is our biggest outdoor gathering each Christmas, and they couldn’t just walk away.

Within a day of the cancelled parade, parents were talking to each other about providing some venue for the kids to perform. (I’m assuming much of this happened on Facebook, but being the troglodyte that I am, I wasn’t following it.)

We were delighted to be asked if performances could be held at the newspaper during the Friday night street market. Of course, they could. That’s what we do with this property when we’re not publishing the paper. We provide a place for community activities.

And so, on Friday evening, Southside Dance Studio, Footnotes and Isle of Wight Academy majorettes came downtown in the midst of the rescheduled street market. They danced, sang and generally had a wonderful time entertaining parents and grandparents, as well as market goers who noticed the extra activities.

These young people as well as the audience cheered everybody. None of it was judged, but all of it was enjoyed.

Meanwhile, Trinity United Methodist Church’s youth group and Tiger Cub Scouts pulled together a “hot chocolate tent” that added to the festivities, and bit to the coffers of those organizations.

There’ll be plenty of time to talk about the cancelled parade and what might have been, but for now, suffice it to say that a hardy bunch of kids, their instructors and families pulled together a delightful, if impromptu, hour of Christmas entertainment.