Saturday, February 13, 2016

It's official: I'm a clown

Acting like a goofball in the Philly's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade turns out to be a hilarious way for the family to enjoy the parade long after the little one has outgrown it.

It's official: I'm a clown


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 ...

(If you're so inclined, you can listen here to the podcast I recorded in 2007, after our first parade.)

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all. Thanks for reading.

Daily News Columnist
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About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.

Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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