When The Hand That Gives Is That Hand That Takes
Thanksgiving is probably America’s favorite holiday. People say timing is everything and Thanksgiving which occurs almost three months after the last major holiday (Labor Day) hits a sweet spot for timing. Americans seem ready to travel and reconnect with family and friends.
In Philadelphia, the City holds its annual “Thanksgiving Day Parade” which in fact is Christmas Parade (or maybe I should say Holiday Parade). Originally this Parade was sponsored by Gimbel Brothers Department Stores (Macy’s fierce competitor). Unfortunately, Gimbel’s days ended in 1986 and a local ABC television channel pick up the lead sponsorship. The parade was saved and life was good.
Over the years, the parade has managed to bring to Philadelphia 15 or so first class marching bands from east of the Mississippi. A special occasion for the band’s members and a treat for Philadelphians. Each year the parade organizers presented a family friendly welcome to the holiday season. This year, however, they went over the top.
Apparently the money necessary to bring in top notch marching units and to pay for police and city clean up services is substantial (although not significantly more this year than the past). Never the less, the desire for ever larger TV audiences (beat the other channels) drove other forces than just covering the parade’s cost. And there in laid the problem.
The 2015 Parade became a “made for TV” event.
The Parade’s conclusion is directly in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and all units march must pass this reviewing point. The marching units march crisply and play their best. Unfortunately, the Television Station also made the reviewing point their stage too. Hmmm.
If you haven’t guessed by now, the terrific marching units were of little interest to the TV moguls. Instead they arranged for brightly costumed singing and dancing units (who did not march) to perform while the parade stopped and waited. Add to this, time reserved for commercials, the parade did little marching and lots of standing still and waiting.
Thursday was a beautiful day with temperatures in the 60’s. The experience was exasperating but had the weather been like 2014 when it was cold, most spectators would have simply gone home disappointed.
The nice weather enable most to tough it out, stay to the end when Santa arrives, and the leave frustrated and disappointed.
The ABC affiliate hopefully will take note that their goals of producing a wonderful television event should not take precedent over the real event itself. Parades are for kids of all ages, and marching bands should be just that, something one goes and sees “march”.