Two years ago, I had a startling realization: My kid was sort of outgrowing Philly's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. The insight was bittersweet: I was delighted to see my daughter hit canny adolescence, but bummed that our annual family ritual of waving to Elmo and Santa on the Parkway looked to be petering out on us.
Then a friend suggested we become parade volunteers. Turns out that scads of free helpers are needed each year to dress as clowns and work the crowd, to handle the huge helium balloons that forever threaten to sail away into the ether and to man the floats. We signed up and had a blast bumping into our fellow citizens and esteemed celebs (the 2007 photo, left, is of me and Michael Nutter, who'd just won his mayoral election).
We laughed ourselves silly and - voila! - just like that, the parade was returned to us as a family tradition.
This week marks our third time partaking in the parade. This time around, three of my 22 nieces and nephews are joining us in the Clown Brigade. My goal is to one day have all 22 of them to join their Aunt Ronnie on the Parkway. If they get their parents to join them, all the better. They can carry our creaking bones home ...