Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Officer Steven on the March

I've lived in Minneapolis long enough that I have nearly forgotten how charmingly odd it once seemed that there is an annual summer festival called an Aquatenniel. In fact, when I came to visit the city in 1987 to consider whether I wanted to live here I happened to be here for the midweek Torchlight Parade. I remember being particularly impressed by the precision lawnmower team, and the sincere goofiness of the parade was a key part of my sense of what a sweet city this must be.

Until this year there were two Aquatenniel parades: One on Saturday morning (which always seemed to take place on one of the hottest days of the year, which would have been true again this year) and one on Wednesday night. Now there's just the nighttime parade, but boy it's a biggie. The Minneapolis Police Band traditionally leads off both parades, even now that we're down to only about two dozen people on the march. The parade is tonight.

This parade is so big that one year, when I had plans to meet some friends after the parade, I finished marching, went back with the band to the police station in South Minneapolis, went home, showered, changed, and drove back downtown and the parade had not yet ended. Fortunately the spectators had started to leave (it must have been past 11pm) so parking was easy.

Two years ago the Freedom Band (the gay/lesbian band) was invited to march, which once would have seemed an enormously symbolic gesture of importance to me. But I couldn't let down the Police Band, and I was committed to them first for this event. When the Freedom Band made its decision to march they did so knowing that I (and three other members of the Police Band) wouldn't be joining them. Although as it turns out two of those musicians changed their clothes on the police bus and went back to the beginning of the parade in time to join the Freedom Band, something that I hadn't thought to attempt and that would have been very difficult anyway since it would have involved the logistics of dealing with two different bass drums not to mention the exhaustion of marching a full parade twice on what was an exceptionally hot humid evening, if I recall.

If tradition holds, tonight I will march down Hennepin Avenue to an unending chorus of small children shouting out, "Mom, look at that policeman's hair!"
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