Photo: Mihai Surdu on Unsplash
It was partially because they needed to find something to focus on, and the months ahead stretched barren of anything worthy of looking forward to; and partially because they believed they had some yet-to-be-discovered organizational talents and this could be a good way to shine a little spotlight on them; and partially because they knew it was the last thing Mayor Perry would expect. The latter reason alone was worth the effort. Especially when it would be something he won’t be able to admit he was against and may even end up having to endorse.
So they planned a parade.
They enlisted friends’ cars for floats and roped in small sponsorships by neighborhood stores and minor celebrities. They tempted bands and cheerleaders from local middle-schools with free exposure and offered same for the martial arts students from George’s Judo (which, not to be outdone, was followed by the dancers from Teens’ Tap and Ballroom Ballerinas). They raised money (and attention) by holding bake-sales on stoops and organizing a popup donate-your-merchandise shop on the sidewalk in front of the library. They printed flyers and pinned them to bulletin boards then convinced store owners to tape some into their display windows, by telling them every one else already had.
Peer pressure worked.
Most people didn’t ask too many questions about why a “Celebrate Ourselves” parade was necessary, where it had been born or by whom or to what end. The general theme seemed good enough, and it probably didn’t feel right to be against celebrating who one was and what they belonged to and were included in.
They ordered “CO” shirts, stickers, and visors in neon-green, complete with an abstract sketch of a float-turned-banner-turned-thumbs-up to ‘carry’ the letters as the parade’s logo. They uploaded photos of themselves handing shirts to firefighters, visors to grinning grandmothers in the park, and an assortment of the stuff to slightly bewildered parents at the playground. The stickers were a hit with the kids.
They videoed themselves delivering a shirt to the mayor’s office, then sent the video to the local news, who shared it under the title: “The Mayor Celebrates ‘Celebrating Ourselves.'” Social media amplified it.
By the following morning the mayor was accosted by a reporter on his way out of the gym. The insistent young woman shoved a microphone in Mayor Perry’s face and asked whether he’d been asked to be the Grand Marshal.
“Not yet,” he mumbled.
An hour later they were in his office, neon-green shirts on, tailed by the reporter they’d tipped ahead of time for an “exclusive follow-up scoop.”
Soon enough a statement was issued and the news headlined: “Mayor Perry to Lead CO Parade.”
Sponsorships streamed on: The gym the Mayor belonged to. The bank. The local hospital. The Aerobatics Club.
Requests came in for satellite parades in nearby towns.
The national news picked the story. Talking heads nodded and argued the pros and cons.
Mayor Perry marched, neon-green shirt and forced smile on.
By the following year they ran for office, with the CO logo strategically in the background.
Celebrating themselves was fun.
For Linda Hill’s SoCS and JusJoJun writing prompt