Monday, June 07, 2010

I Love a Parade

The rooster chorus trumpeted the day. I’d set my alarm for 8:15 a.m., but I woke up early on account of the clamor outside. Also, Scout stood on my chest as she often does, purring preemptively, reminding me it was feeding time. I grabbed my phone and texted a couple volunteers around town, “Where you at?”

Last week the Prime Minister declared today a public holiday to celebrate the Manu Samoa’s victory in the World Championship Rugby Sevens tournament in London the Saturday before last, and there was to be a parade through town this morning, and not having anything else to do, I figured I’d go watch.

There was another parade a month or so ago to celebrate the Manu Samoa’s victory in the Hong Kong tournament, and the one thing I learned about parades in Samoa is the only sure sign the parade will pass by is to go to a spot where there are Samoa spectators; the route printed in the Samoan Observer is a rough estimate, by no means a reliable map. With this in mind, I set out down Beach Road, and only when I saw people standing along the sides of the street did I stop. The method proved itself effective: I stopped when I saw people, and that turned out to be the very beginning of the parade route.

Maintaining a blog demands a constant flow of content, thus I almost always have my camera in my pocket. This morning was no different, but when I went to take my first photo of the day, the battery died.

The police marching band was called to attention. They started playing. The parade was off. Girls through feathers in the path of the Manu Samoa players a la Prince Azim’s palace in “Coming to America”. I witnessed all of this, but caught none of it on film.

Then, as the tail of the parade passed, I saw Rachel and Lily (both of 82) approaching, each with camera in hand. They’d both missed the parade, and I had no photos. Let’s head it off at the pass, we all thought. “Maybe if we cut through the fish market, we can catch it in Mulinuu.”

We sprint-walked past the fish market and the expansive bus-loading zone next to it. Taxis and trucks trying to beat the parade found had also discovered our route, so we had to take oncoming traffic into account as we lumbered down the sea wall.

Finally I could see the front of the parade, and somehow we’d timed things perfectly so when the sea wall converged with the road, our smaller parade would meet the bigger more official parade at the same time.

For Rachel and Lily, this was not enough. “We need to get out in front of it,” they said. So we kept our faster pace, slowly overcoming the strangely quick-paced police marching band. But then I noticed it wasn’t just the 3 of us. Sure enough there were lots of other people walking along the side of the parade route, whether to keep up with their favourite players or to get a better seat at the end of the parade route, I’m not sure.

At one point when the road narrowed I wound up walking with my flow of foot traffic directly next to the rugby players who were actually marching in the parade.

Finally we broke ahead, and we found a spot with a bunch of other spectators where we were able to see the entire parade pass by once more.

I’ve seen many parades in my life. I’ve also marched in a few. But never have I watched a parade, joined it, and then watched it a second time.

It was quite a morning.

I hope you’re well. Pictures (thanks to Rachel and Lily) below.

Super Fans.

The Manu Samoa.

The Manu Samoa again. Mostly I'm just posting this photo because of the Giants cap at right.

This banner is written in Text Message. I really like the use of "FORGET'N" in the top line.

This banner reminds me of an old Conan O'Brien character that used to yell ridiculously long football chants. This is a banner, people, not a paragraph. It makes it seem obvious why marketers started using terse slogans.

The Head of State's motorcade.

Manu Samoa Under Tent with Police Officer in Foreground. Photographed by Rachel.

I ran into loyal blog reader Faautu (sp?) at the event. She usually accesses the blog from her home in Switzerland. It was a pleasure to meet you!

1 comment:

GracieLV said...

OMG you ran into Utu! How cool! She introduced me to your blog :) I dont know if you remember but you were walking past the CV in Apia and I called out to you. You had the most confused look on your face,like "who the heck is callin' me?" ;) But I told you I fully enjoy your blog and still do! :) Have a great day Matt! Say hi to Samoa for me :) Gracie- Las Vegas, NV.