Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bloom 2012

Every year, Winchester holds their Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival. There are parades, games, carnival rides, a circus, entertainment and loads of other exciting activities for kids and adults alike. This year was the 85th anniversary of the festival. You see my family (on my Mom's side) has lived in the Shenandoah Valley for many, many years. As a child, we would go to the Apple Blossom Festival every year. What I remember most about the festival is being the unofficial judges for the Grand Feature Parade.
I'm about 3 or 4 years old in this picture. It really takes me back. I remember I didn't like the drums in the marching bands because they were too loud. How ironic I find that now. Seeing as I spent 8 years performing in my high school and college marching band. It's been 15 years since my last visit to the festival. A long time, I know. But, as you grow older, time gets away from you and other things take on a greater importance. Yet, as May grew near, talk about the festival would always start. Since Mason turned 2 years old, my mom and I have been talking about going back to the festival, but never made it. Now that both the kids are old enough to enjoy it, we stopped the talking.

This Friday, after school, my Mom and I took the kids to the Fireman's Parade. Fred stayed home to enjoy a much needed guys night out. The day was met with much anticipation. Not only was this the kids first time to Apple Blossom, it was also their first time watching a parade. I had no idea how they would react. Would they think it was too loud? Would they be so bored they'd want to leave early? I've said it a million times, and it's true each and every time, my kids never cease to amaze me.

After securing seats along Washington St., we made our way to Old Town Midway. We checked out the games and concessions before grabbing some hotdogs and heading backing to our seats to eat. No festival would be complete without vendors selling toys along the route and Grandma being Grandma, bought the kids each a toy. Sophie immediately picked a purple monkey. We named him Boots since he looks like that monkey from Dora. Mason took a little longer, but decided upon a blue Ninja sword. We ran into my sister and two nieces, who joined us for the first part of the parade till my Aunt and Uncle showed up. First to pass were the motorcycles and antique fire trucks.
Mason spent the entire parade with his camera in front of his face,
taking picture
after picture
after picture. (This is James Woods High School, alma mater to four generations).
Mason was mostly into the cars, and when his camera battery died (poor planning on my part) he made note to tell me which cars I needed to take pictures of.
While Mason was busy being photographer, Sophia was fascinated with the Princesses.
She would yell, "Hi Princess!"
and wave,
and stare in awe,
and wave again. I swear her arm was going to fall off from all the waving and clapping at each and every princess that drove by. And there were a lot of princesses.
While Daddy was watching the Avengers movie on his guys night, we saw them too.
and McGruff the Crime Dog,
even the Chik-fil-A cows were there.
This is America's 9/11 Foundation carrying the National 9/11 flag. We almost missed them. Sophie had to go potty. Of course I had planned for this, not knowing where the bathrooms would be and if we'd be able to make it on time. Luckily we knew someone who had an office near by that let us use the restroom and I was so impressed when we arrived and Sophia's underwear was dry. She had held it in. Super proud mom moment right there.

Later, as one of the fire trucks drove by, one of the fireman started handing out fire hats to all the kids.

Of course little miss friendly walked over to the girl sitting next to us and said hello. I swear this girl will walk up and strike a conversation with just about anyone. Especially, if it's a girl (or boy) close to her age.

I kept waiting for one of them to tell me they were done and it was time to head home. Quite possibly it was the bags of cotton candy they devoured that kept their energy up or maybe just all the excitement of the day. Either way, I had totally lost track of time when Mason finally decided he had enough. Once we had gathered up all our stuff and headed back to the midway for one more gift (a necklace for Sophie and a lightsaber type sword for Mason) we realized we had stayed the whole parade. Just as we reached the street where the parade began, the last firetrucks were passing and blaring their horns as loud as I have ever heard. All us adults were plugging our ears, while the kids endured the deafening beeps and roars with total fascination.

I still can't believe they lasted hours sitting in chairs and waving at firetruck, after firetruck that drove by. It was practically dark by the time we reached our car and headed for home. Once again, both Mason and Sophie showed how mature and well behaved they can be. After the horrendous wait for lunch in Harpers Ferry, and now this long parade, I am convinced that my Aunt and Uncle think my kids are the model of perfect Angels who never utter a word in complaint, and do not posses a whiny bone in their body. Ha ha, do my kids have them fooled. But, in all honesty, I am truly proud of my kids in these moments. Ones where surely any adult would be tired, frustrated, annoyed, and antsy, causing even the most patient to lose their cool. These kids, seem to endure. Which is why I know we will continue to take them to places and events such as this.
(1. Enjoying the cotton candy. 2. Watching. 3. Local heros. 4. Being a Jedi Knight.)

So looking forward to next year.
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