It’s the weekend again! Saturday was a day at home – we spent special time with each of the kids, Zander attended a birthday party in the afternoon and we cleaned our house since we had some friends over for dinner. Here you can see the lovely ‘tree’ that Callie created – collecting the materials during her special time walk with Dad and creating the design during special time with me.
On Sunday we had daylight savings (that’s right – it’s 2 weeks later than at home for some strange reason) and spent the morning together finishing up special times. It takes about 3 hours for full special time for all three – 1/2 hour each with both Mom and Dad and we didn’t pull it off in one day! Well, we finished up in the morning since we had big plans for the afternoon – CARNAVALE! We wanted to be to the parade on time which meant catching the 2pm bus. Andre’ wanted to do his run in the afternoon to prep for next week’s race. That meant he was around in the morning and left around 11:30am. He was supposed to be back from his run at 1:30 but didn’t make it until almost 2 – but I forgive him since he found a new thrift store for us to visit on his journey and since we didn’t miss the bus! (He just missed his shower) We got off the bus at a bridge running right over the Doubs. It has been raining lately and the river was running quite high – the area pictured on the left side of the bridge usually is a sidewalk!
We got to Pont Battant at 2:30 and had to wait until 3ish for the parade to start. I am often amazed by the inconsistency of my kids’ patience. At times, like when they are handing me a jacket to hang up they absolutely CAN NOT wait (the what, 15 seconds?) it takes for me to hang up my own coat before I take theirs…. – MOM, tiens, tiens, tiens, TIENS! But other times, they can just sit and stare at an empty street for half an hour with no complaint while I’m fidgeting and shifting my weight around.
It was a great parade- well organized and full of energy and tons and tons of confetti. (Usually, when people say ‘tons’ it is just an expression – but in this case there actually were several thousand pounds of shredded paper) We had a great front-row view and could see everything. Here are some shots of the floats. There were those I’d expect- flowers, a giant moon, friendly mice, and a dragon eating a person – scary! Then there were several ‘princess’ floats – one featuring Miss Besançon herself, with attendants and another with Miss Franche-Comté and her attendants (wow). There was also a float with young princesses--of course Callie would like to join their ranks next year. The backs of the floats were equally elaborate – if you look closely above the blue clover you can see that some lucky folks live above the parade route and were watching through their windows. All the fun and none of the confetti.
Then there were a couple of floats I don’t believe you’d see in the USA – I shall refer to them as the potty and porno floats. I must say, I felt bad for the folks from that Latin Restaurant – they were gyrating with the best of them but still, it was a mighty cold day to only be covered with a bikini and your bulging muscles! The floats and bands were sponsored by various restaurants, banks and community groups. Some of the costumes were amazing! Here are some of the bands….
The costumes in the first shot are a bit tame, I admit – but I was trying more to show off the interesting instruments they were playing – kind of looked like about 6 horns all stuck together. In the second shot you can see the amazing drum sets used by many of the bands – they just rolled them along down the street in front of them. The third shot shows traveling xylophones! I was impressed with how they managed to rig a truss to carry it along. The elaborate costumes reminded me of the Mummers in Philly – I guess the tradition does come from European roots. In the last shot you can see a small child leading off the group. I must say that this was the most diverse, ethnically and age-ically (OK, I KNOW that’s not a word – but how do you say that the ages were diverse?) that I’ve seen yet in Besancon. I actually only saw one group that could easily be identified as a high school band. The rest had people of all ages – tots in strollers to the old timers barely able to totter along down the street keeping up with the parade. I was impressed by the ethnic diversity as well, even in places you wouldn’t expect it. For example, an Indian restaurant float featured about a dozen dancers on the bed – maybe 3 looked ethnically Indian.
Here are some shots of strange things… The giant puppet reminded me of the Spiral Q puppets from back home in Philly – and seems to have been simply one group of friends who made it – Zander says he wants IN for next year – maybe this would be the best way? Next, note the pacifier in the mouth of the xylophone playing teenager – is this an unusual sight? Not as much as you would think. In France, they seem to potty train by age 2, but I see kids older than Callie with pacifiers with alarming frequency. I guess it’s all what you are used to. The marchers representing the Irish presence in Besançon made me laugh out loud. I thought it was wonderful how they were able to laugh at the stereotypes aimed at them and simply embrace one of the most notoriously Irish traits, drunkenness, by staggering along down the street. Maybe, if we do a puppet for next year, it can be obnoxiously American – and have a sign saying – Sorry world, we can’t help it - we ARE the best! And, of course, I would be remiss not to mention the confetti (yet again) – almost all the floats were tossing tons of it outward towards us spectators and this, the final float, actually had a confetti cannon! There was so much the river was coated in it – the photo doesn’t do it justice.
Finally, I thought I’d put these shots in – showing how much fun we had watching – the photo of Griff didn’t come out – but he loved it too!