Every year someone brought milk and cookies to the gazebo for Santa Claus and an apple for Rudolph. Christmas morning the milk and cookies would be gone and the families would have piles of presents under their trees.
By 1:15 the first float drags down the street through in front of a handful of spectators clinging to their memories of better parades. The last float is the King of the Christmas Parade float. Still the finest float in the parade – it is just a shadow of what it once was. After the parade – as in years gone by – everyone gathered at the gazebo in town to sing “Silent Night” then to be safe “Here Comes Santa Claus” before returning to their homes for dinner and football.
Over the years the spectacle of the parade slowly dwindled. These days people hurry up and down Main Street kicking the dirty slush up until about noon. Then Cleveland – the old policeman who should’ve retired decade or so ago – puts up the saw horses along the two blocks of the parade route.
Tommy O’Connor was the King of the Christmas Parade of 1957. He went on to a measure of success in the movies. He was the third cowboy from the right in an Elvis Presley movie. He was a second dead soldier in a foxhole in a Lee Marvin movie. He was a portly orangutan in a Charlton Heston film. Eventually Tommy worked his way home and opened a used car lot where he spent his days spinning yarns and dropping names.
Christmas Eve brought the magical Christmas parade to Main Street. The parade itself had seen better days. In the 1950s the parade was just about the biggest event in town.
People lined the streets shivering – holding tight to paper cups of hot chocolate. It was never too cold to wait for a chance to see the King of the Christmas Parade rolling by on a float covered entirely of flowers made out of colored toilet paper.
People were comfortable with the assumption that Booger Wilson was out practicing some form of skullduggery. That made them feel good about themselves and Booger Wilson did not begrudge them that.
Booger Wilson liked to paint. He liked to create beautiful portraits on the canvases he bought at yard sales. No one knew Booger Wilson was an artist. Most people assumed Booger Wilson was out creating mischief when – in fact – he could often be found arranging apples in a bowl to create a still life. He had dozens of paintings around the musty old garage. He had still life studies and portraits of people who lived in his imagination. He wasn’t secretive about the paintings. He wasn’t embarrassed. He just didn’t advertise it.