Saturday Krampus Parade Starts Weekend; Late Thanksgiving Tale Ends First Sunday Prose
So a member of my writers group, presumably planning to write a “Krampus” story herself but declining to actually go to the local parade right here in town on Saturday night, made me this request: You might describe to me the sights, smells, sounds, etc. of the local parade. I imagine kids shrieking, music, smells of food for sale, etc. Who is it that hands out candy; was it “angels?” And the Krampuses have switches? (I read that the traditional Krampus does. I know he’s Austrian. He has relatives like Klaubeuf.) Sensing an attempt to get me to write part of her story for her, or at least do her research, and possibly in a cynical mood, I replied (after a brief snark that, re. “smells,” there would be crowds and undoubtedly body odor but it would be too cold to smell it) thusly:
I’m jaded myself, I remember the first one when you could march along the route with the Angels and Krampi yourself. But a quick rundown (oh wait, I copied the stuff from Facebook for you in my other email, it’ll tell you what to expect!), based on last year’s which would seem to be pretty much what will happen this year too, were you to go at 5, you’d probably mill around with people in the area behind the Showers Bldg (City Hall), you’d probably find a stand or a person giving out the “Naughty” and “Nice” stickers and choose the one you want to paste on your jacket (Hint: it’s considered bush league to paste on both). There may also be some food stands (or trucks, since those are “in” these days, the trucks probably parked on the street) Also some game-type things to help keep the kiddies quiet, though, half-frozen, most won’t be too noisy. As 6 p.m. works around, it’ll have gotten rather dark and someone will announce the parade will be starting and suggest you head south along Madison St. to watch it. You do, then you stand with others in the cold for awhile, then see some kind of lighted stuff (majorettes with light-up batons? Who knows) way in the distance to the south. In what seems like ages, it will finally get to where you are and move on past, Angels (giving out candy to the “nice”), Bishop Nick, maybe in the parade proper they’ll have the cart with the cage with a couple of “naughty” kids in it, maybe some other stuff, plus guys in Krampus suits. These last may or may not be holding switches or sticks but I doubt they’ll actually hit anyone — lawsuits, you know, not to mention possible criminal charges. But they will run toward children near the parade route with “Naughty” stickers yelling “Rowrrr!” And quite quickly, considering how long it seemed to take for it to get to you, it will be passed. Madison Street will seem deserted, the wind whistling, perhaps a piece or two of trash blowing along the now-empty expanse, and you’ll look around at other people looking as puzzled as you. Is that all there is? you’ll think. Then you remember what you’d read on Facebook, that there may be a sort of after thing, maybe an hour or more later, when some of the Krampuses will go around to the local bars, possibly go inside and yell “Rowrrr!” but you won’t stay around that long to find out. Nor will anyone you know remember having done so in previous years, but if you really want my experience, I usually continue south to Krogers to see if anything’s on sale (one gala year, I stopped in at the Wendy’s to use the rest room), then go home. Another year, another Krampus parade.
Now that it’s over, I can add that it’s really more fun than that, though (as sort of a one-trick pony) it’s still rather short. I only got downtown in time for the parade itself so I can’t report on pre-parade activities, but I can better define “the lighted stuff . . . way in the distance” as lighted hula hoops followed by some guys holding torches (“fire stuff” as a security guard called it, using that a means to get the audience back to the sides of the road where they belonged — clever, I call it) and, while the rustic cart of caged children of years past wasn’t there (though the parade ended with a motorized mini-vehicle with one child), the first krampuses were “forcing” chained kids to trudge behind them. Also, if anyone asks, I wore a “Nice” sticker because, as I’ve explained in the past (see December 9 2012; also December 6 2015) Nice gets you free candy (only one package this time though — maybe the angels were tightening their celestial belts) while “Naughty” gets you harassment. And anyway if you’re truly naughty who’d tell the truth?
Which brings us to Sunday and 2016’s final Bloomington Writers Guild “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (cf. November 7, et al.), co-sponsored and venued by Boxcar Books. Featured readers this time were Annette Oppenlander, who we’ve met before, with a talk on how her young adult ESCAPE FROM THE PAST novel trilogy was first conceived followed by an excerpt from the third volume, published just last week; award-winning documentary filmmaker, eco-journalist, etc., Kalynn Huffman Brower with an excerpt from an “ages ten and up” science fiction novel in progress plus a part of an autobiographical essay; and Andrew Hubbard who continued a non-fiction piece begun two months back on Nebraska’s Chimney Rock and its surrounding area. Then when open mike time came, with an audience still thirteen people strong (including the man asleep on the couch in back), I read fourth in a field of five (that is, followed by MC Joan Hawkins and thus, technically, not quite ending the session) with a near-future Thanksgiving set 500-word story, written for a call by THE STONESLIDE CORRECTIVE shortly after a recent election, for stories on the subject of “aftermath.”
Time will tell if it gets accepted (or comes true) and, in the meantime, since next month starts on a Sunday with Boxcar Books closed for New Year’s Day, that’s the last of the First Sunday Prose Reading series until February 5, 2017.