It was a wonderful parade - the best ever. But I am disappointed. I know there were going to be some people there I know online. But we didn't make any exact plans to hook up and we didn't. We might have seen each other- but since it isn't a conference - no one wears name tags. I also forgot my camera. I have a camera on my phone, bt sadly I just couldn't get any good pics with it. I do have a few - if they look any good bigger I will post them.
I have no idea how many people were in the parade - countless. People in chairs, scooters, on crutches, with dogs, on bikes, sitting on floats, and walking. Everyone is happy! (Except possibly some of the parade volunteers - who like previous years all seem to be overwhelmed with the stress of it all ). People are excited to meet friends they know from far away - or close by. New people hook up with like-minded agendas.
I was impressed with the float ahead of us. It was a group of people with various Hispanic ties - most, but far from all had developmental disabilities. Latin music was played full blast which gave everyone the inspiration to dance. Everyone held flags - many from the country of their origin. Somebody gave Teddy a flag - which interestedly enough just happened to be from Puerto Rico where his birth grandparents were born.
This year I noted two things - Justin Dart was brought up many times (well-deservedly so) and appears to have clearly taken the role of the creator of the current flavor of disability pride. And Not Dead Yet has taken over as the most popular self-identifying slogan. As a self-identifier it seems to represent the idea if that we do not want to live in institutions like nursing homes - that is where people go to die and we are not ready to be dead yet, nor are we dead yet - so support us living in the communty.
Teddy sells tshirts at the parade and Not Dead Yet was clearly the front runner as the most requested tshirt. Teddy has a new design that has Justin on it ( fully approved by his widow Yoshiko) and that was the best seller of the day. (We were out of Not Dead yet shirts.)
The most impressive part though was the entertainment. I can't say I liked all of it, but there were some really stellar performances. A dance troupe that was people of mixed abilities, including 2 chair users was stunning. There was a discernable change in the crowd when these women danced. No one could keep their eyes off their fluid graceful movements. There was a group that sings using sing language. It was beautiful to watch and makes me regret not keeping up with or improving my signing. Even without understanding the signs, you understood the intent of the music. And there was Sarah Triano's hop hop raps. She is either improving or I am getting my ear tuned to rap. Each year Sarah raps to a rapt audience and must say that in previous year although I thought what she did was clever - it didn't really excite me. This year was diffferent - loved every rap - and wanted to hear more. (BTW Teddy got on stage with his friend Micah and another young woman with Down syndorme and they danced as Sarah's back-up.)
All in all it was as is always a wonderful, eneergizing place to be. It still does not have the feel of a national parade like I wish it would - more and more people and organizations are coming from afar, but not enough to make it feel like we have come along way to travel 240 miles.
July 26, 2008 That is the date of next year's parade. Put it on your calendar now. Start saving your money so you can afford to go . (There is an inexpensive youth hostel that anyone of any age can stay at - that is accessible.) You won't regret going -and I am going to be sure people I want to meet are going to be wearing name tags!