At the start of the Silver Bells In The City electric-lights parade for 2017 the announcer asked for shows of hands. How many people were here for the first time? How many were here the previous year? And you came back? The Silver Bells parade for 2016 was the one that started out in surprisingly comfortable, warm weather and then got destroyed by a monsoon blowing through. 2017, though? What did that promise us?
Not such severe weather, must say. It was cooler than 2016, but that freak year saw 70-degree temperatures in late November. This past November it was warm but within seasonal norms. And no rain. There were a few drops about an hour into the parade, enough to inspire a wary thought in me. But the weather changed its mind, and it didn't rain, or do anything particularly untoward at all.
Something that was a change: Lansing's Mayor Virg Bernero was having his farewell parade. He'd decided not to run for reelection this year, and by that time Andy Shor had been elected with an estimated 895% of the votes cast for him. Everyone on the reviewing stand took the chance to shake his hand or hug him and there were the usual good things said about a politician who's been around forever and is leaving with only a handful of not obviously major scandals. (There's this weird one about an attorney paid a surprisingly high bonus when her contract was terminated, and that nobody will answer any questions about. Scandal? Maybe, but the Mayor's particularly? Who knows?)
We found a spot right behind one of the TV cameras, a great viewing location since the camera meant there would necessarily be some clear space around us. Also somebody ran up to the operator to warn him his battery was dying, and we could watch him swap that out during one of the few commercial breaks. And, with no particular storms, we were able to watch the tree get lit and also to see the fireworks going off, from our perspective, right behind the state capitol dome.
Also we were able to take the time to wander over to the shopping village that was, once upon a time, the heart of the Silver Bells festival; the parade of lighted vehicles and the lighting of the state Christmas tree has taken over the public image of what it's all about. Sad news is the people who had the vegetarian pasties we got two years ago weren't back. The Peanut Shop, a downtown roastery, was open, bustling with enough people that we couldn't get in, just as well as we'd have been mauled by squirrels if we had tried to get in. Anyway the streets were crowded with people milling around, a capella groups singings Christmas carols, scenes from Christmas movies projected onto the sides of downtown building, all that sort of thing. It's about the biggest-city feel that Lansing gets.
Trivia: There were no on-site facilities for athletes to dress for the 1948 Winter Olympics in St Moritz. Competitors had to dress for competition at their hotels. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.
Currently Reading: George Green, Mathematician and Physicist, 1793 - 1841: The Background to his Life and Work, D M Cannell.
The DJ, ruining the magic by making Nick look kind of stoned, really.
Folks closing in on the DJ and catching the light for him.
Not a particularly special moment but I love the way the hyena's lean makes the photo.