Saturday, December 3, 2011

Parade with a peppermint twist

A member of the Precision Snow Shovel Brigade Drill Team holds his ground during a string strike Saturday.
The Peppermint Stick Brigade falls into form after the Silly String assault.
The shovel brigade gives chase. Note the Peppermint Sticks ahead of them.
Shovel brigade members break off the chase for a photo on Butler Street.   
Crowd-pleasers at the end.
The Facebook exchanges between Keith Charak of the Precision Snow Shovel Brigade Drill Team and Liz Engel of the Peppermint Stick Brigade foretold the fun-filled fracas at Saturday afternoon’s Saugatuck Christmas parade:

Charak posted a photo Saturday of the Yuletide-attired Peppermint platoon from last year’s parade. The comment alluded to the drizzle dampening West Michigan all afternoon: “The Poor Poor patties, will their makeup run ... call the wambulance girls!”

He added a caption to the photo: “I hope it stops raining, the living room drapes I’m wearing must be awfully heavy when wet and my make-up will certainly be ruined. I will look just like a stray cat caught in the rain, this day is just ... WHAAAAAAAAAA”

Engel responded: “You’re going down jug head.”

Archie, Betty and Veronica — all Riverdale, in fact — trembled in their boots.

The two groups have nurtured a good-natured competitiveness since the Peppermint Stick Brigade arrived on the scene in 2009 to challenge the pre-eminence of the Precision Snow Shovel Brigade Drill Team in local parades.

The groups are much alike — disciplined, musical in the military style, each carrying an object capable of a colossal smack. Though the drill team’s snow shovels seem a more brutal stick for punishment, the candy cane scepters of the Peppermints can no doubt be wielded with sufficient force to stun a Clydesdale pulling a carriage through town.

The similarity was bound to bring them into conflict. The morning’s Facebook taunts seemed to be the spark and when the Peppermint Sticks struck, they smacked with a storm of Silly String, smothering the shovel-swingers in front of scores of spectators.

To their credit, the veteran Precision Snow Shovel Brigade Drill Team did not break ranks, bravely weathering the sticky string and completing their crowd-pleasing choreography with a defiant smack of their own — shovels on the pavement.

The Peppermints gleefully hustled back to the start of the parade, waving their sticks in the air as they weaved through the sidewalk crowds. The shovellers gave half-hearted chase, picking the plastic party string off their pajama bottoms and coconut bras. They finally stopped to get their photos taken with fans and decide at which bar they would bend elbows.

The Peppermints could claim sweet victory.

The shovellers were going to taste dignity in defeat.

Next year’s parade ought to be epic.

Some links

More photos:

Peppermint Stick video:

Snow Shovel Brigade video:

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