Monday, February 25, 2008

Mardi Gras in the Big Freezy

Saturday Burlington had it's big Mardi Gras celebration (Much like with the primaries, we're way later than everyone else.) highlighted by a parade hosted by local brewery Magic Hat

(I didn't have a chance to photograph Heather's Magic Hat sign for Number 9 beer but it basically looks like this.)

This is the 13th year these counterintuitively frostbitten shenanigans have been going on. It mostly amounts to a big float competition (With beads and candy being pelted at spectators.) and any nearby establishment serving alchohol being packed tighter than a refugee camp. Burlington being decidedly less laissez-faire than New Orleans, you won't see people staggering around in the streets holding gi-normous hurricane cocktails or flashing their breasts. (Aside from the inhospitable weather, the fact that the parade is to benefit Burlington's Women's Rape Crisis Center it MIGHT send the wrong signal...)

I was actually involved with a winning float back in the mid-late 90's. At the time I managed the local indie record store Pure Pop Records and they'd joined the Coalition of Independent Music Stores, a collective of non chain stores using their "Taste maker" status as a means of getting record companies to spend money on them promoting up and coming bands. (The music business was just starting to tank a bit. HAH! Just wait until the new millenium starts boys...) Anyhoo, Virgin Records was promoting a band called SILVERJET (Not to be confused with a current band out of Sheffield England.) and the store owner got the idea to use the label's money to construct a big silver jet float for the parade and put the band on it. (Also arranging for the band to play a few songs near the parade route.) He got a sculptor friend to build the float while sometimes American Elf character Kerrie Mathes and I did the detailing. When the big day came it was colder than a subprime lender's heart and the band refused to get on the float or perform at the event. PUSSIES! The fallout was that despite the band's non appearance, the float won the competition and the store got a full Magic Hat keg party. The band, on the other hand, quickly fell into alt rock glut obscurity and you can get their one major label release for a penny on Amazon. The moral: NO GUTS NO GLORY. One does not trifle with Burlington lightly!

(Not that I had any interest in freezing my ass off on the float either...)

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