Denver Parade of Lights

Although there are some people that work year round on the Parade of Lights, some times are much slower then other times.  The main work can only be done on the day of the parade.  The more then 500 volunteers have various jobs that need to be done to have the parade run as smoothly as it does.  As the costumes are set up in the costume room and the stars dry on Bannock, a few drivers and one float captain, myself, gathered at the warehouse where the floats are stored the other 363 days a year.  As I arrived, the creative team finished up with the decoration on the last float, a driver was pulling the floats out of the warehouse and getting them ready for the two and a quarter mile trip to the staging area for the parade.  Everything was lined up and the Denver Police Department had arrived to help clear the way for a Gingerbread House, a Ship, a Mountain Range, handful of Toys and other floats for the parade.  At a top speed just barely touching double digits, the mini-parade made its way down busy city streets during the Friday night rush hour.

After making the journey, it was time to line up the floats and for me to head over to the costume room.  Only a few blocks away from the staging area, the final costumes were getting unloaded from their boxes.  Slowly our many volunteers arrived ready to start bringing the many parade characters to life.  Upon checking in, they received their assignment and began dressing.  The everyday warehouse transformed into a magical place with candies, trees, presents and even a gingerbread man coming to life.  As the time got closer to the parade step off, the final make up was being applied and dusted with glitter.

Parade of Lights - Gingerbread House

The City and County Building with the Gingerbread House float.

As a captain, I gathered up my dancing candies and gave them one final look over and then began a safety briefing.  Then it was time to meet up with the float once again.  Upon arrival we met all the other volunteers that are assigned to our float, the driver, spotter and communicators.  I give the candies one last talk about where to stand and other last minute safety tips and then finally a pep talk.

The first thing on the parade route is TV land.  As all the units merged together, the Gingerbread float finally got the go ahead and stepped off.  All the lights and the filled grandstands just added to the excitement, along with the cameras all around.  The announcers could just be heard over the float music.  The parade moved down the canyons of the city without any problems except a battery pack replacement on a character or two.

At the end of the parade, the float went one way and the characters and I headed back to the costume room.  The costumes found their way back to the boxes and people that filled them grabbed their cookies and soda and headed home for another year.  Before the last unit came back in, the costume room was almost back to the warehouse that it was before the weekend.  It was time for me to meet up with the float for one last time and help the house find its way home.  The police escorted us back to the float warehouse.  Getting back to check out, I picked up the car and closed out another year.  The final things were being packed up and only the stars on Bannock were left as evidence of the parade.

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