There, on 135th Street in Martin City, 4-year-old Captain America pulled his twin Incredible Hulk brother in their little red wagon Sunday during the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The only people more excited were marching directly behind: the mother dressed as Batgirl and the father dressed as Superman: Me.
When I decided to sign up my sons to march in their first parade, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew is they had so much fun collecting candy as spectators in the Louisburg Labor Day parade, I figured it would be even more fun for them to distribute candy in a future event. But never in my wildest imagination did I fully comprehend the joy they would bring to others. The day certainly did not disappoint.
To fully understand the magnitude of having a family “float,” let me first detail what we went through to get to the point on Sunday.
“I have a question,” my wife, Reena, asked at the planning meeting that we were absolutely commanded to attend as first-time marchers. “This is our first parade.”
“Really? Would never have guessed,” a smiling room of 20 seasoned veterans indicated all at once playfully.
Their sarcasm was fully deserved. This had to be the 25th question that someone in our family had asked in a mere half-hour that evening.
Our queries ranged from the legitimate, such as where the parade starts and ends and how long it is, to some that could be considered idiotic:
“How much candy should we have to pass out?”
“For the 20th time, where do we check in, because we aren’t from here?”
In addition to attending the planning meeting, we did a practice run – which constituted driving up and down 135th Street five times to Holmes Road and past Missouri 150. And of course, we decorated our float.
Originally, we planned for our sons to ride their Captain America bicycles with training wheels.
But then we realized that may be too demanding for small legs. So we pulled out the old wagon they had outgrown two years ago. We decorated it with leprechauns, four-leaf clovers, pots of gold, green streamers, green balloons and whatever else we found at Wal-Mart. Of course, the highlight was passing out candy from their green buckets.
Next, we somehow had to devise a St. Patrick’s Day theme from the Superhero costumes we wore this past Halloween. The Incredible (Green) Hulk was a good start.
Finally, we lined up on parade day with our two-foot-long wagon, dwarfed as it was by the trolley car behind us that carried 50 people and the many 25-foot-long floats that clearly took weeks to build.
When the bell rang, Teddy (Hulk) and Ari (Captain America) were off to the races giving candy with smiles beyond measure to every spectator child they could. They singlehandedly held up the parade on many occasions. As we passed the judges, Reena took our number 43 off the back of the wagon to show them who we were, since no one could see us otherwise.
“And now, the Superhero family of the Natenbergs,” the announcer boomed over the speaker.
In the end, we didn’t win the $600 first prize, much to Reena’s disappointment. I knew we should have had a 4-foot wagon.
Todd B. Natenberg lives in Leawood with his Superheroes.