Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Grand Parade ...

As I wrapped up my Friday's work in the TH and crawled up the stairs toward my home and bed, I glanced at my clock: 4:15 a.m. on Saturday morning. I glanced out of the glassed door leading to the deck upstairs and the breath caught in my throat at the sight of the sun tiptoeing across the horizon. Three recalcitrant stars hung on stubbornly, perhaps still basking in the afterglow of the previous evening's light show competition between Three Hills and God ...

The alarm was set for 6:30, two stingy hours later; and as I tried to wake up I blearily looked out of my window, to be treated with this sight, this promise of good things to come for the day:

And, honestly, everything worked in the kitchen that morning, despite the minuscule slumber! Cinnamon rolls flipped out perfectly ... the chocolate cream pie was silky ... the strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries filling the fresh berry pies were plump and luscious ... the labour-intensive (remember 4:15 a.m.?!) custard for the trifles had set to the optimum consistency overnight ... the quiches (pear with caramelized onions and brie, or spinach with feta and sun-dried tomatoes) were golden ... the cheese sauce for the chicken crepes was made with aged white cheddar and smoked Gouda ... coffee was brewing and water was boiling for tea. Now all I needed was a quiet little day, which is traditional for parade day at the TH, and all would be perfect.

And so it started.

Then the parade headed our way ...

For the first time our annual parade was coming all the way up Main Street, passing the TH, so that the Oldies in the Chateau and the Golden Hills Lodge who couldn't get out would still be able to catch a glimpse. Our parking lot started to fill up, everyone preparing to enjoy the sunshine and the floats.
Where were my manners? I should have served coffee!

Three of my favourite TH regulars ...

Just after 11 o'clock we heard the police car siren heralding the start of the parade. The familiar red serge, a segment of our nation's finest, marched smartly led by a pint-sized representative:

Anybody know who the young man is?

Seeing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police en masse always fills my heart with pride. Sure, an occasional rogue elephant separates itself from the herd; but almost invariably these men and women are dedicated, skilled, honourable and self-sacrificial in situations fraught with danger.

Following close behind was the first of the Pipes:
Next our town officers waved from spiffy little convertibles. Two of the TH favourites were, fortunately, on the TH side of the road:
Hey, Al ...

... and Vernon

Then came our Mayor, Tim Shearlaw. Since he was appointed in 2010, this man has worked ceaselessly to do whatever it takes to make Three Hills rise to its potential. He listens to anyone who wants to talk to him constructively (and listens to a lot of the other stuff too, mind you! I believe I griped at him a couple of times and he heard me out patiently but with a little twinkle in his eye, his dimples not far away from the surface ...) and he strives to build consensus. He has gone a long way to construct bridges between the two traditional town factions, the College and the Town as they used to be known. 

I think he got me back at Parade time. Through his microphone he boomed out, "Now we pass the Nilgiris Tea House. Is it too much to expect a cup of coffee? I take mine black ..." 
Next time call ahead, your Worship!
There were various categories of entries that followed.

Old Cars:

Ahh, George, you're never too far from us, are you?

From this ...

... to these ...

Lumbering up in the distance:
Monster tractors!

Many local businesses were represented as well - alas, I got just a few as I was running in and out of the TH supervising the preparation of lunch!:
What? Could that be our mayor AGAIN?! This time around
he had 
a cute, friendly woman in the wagon with him ...
And th
is time around when he started heckling about coffee,
I handed a cup to Saad, my speediest employee that morning;
Saad in turn nobly chased the parade until he caught up
with Tim and presented him his beverage of choice ...

"All the way!"

Look at that beauty ... inside and out ...

Lawrence's and Bobbie's clan!

Our local jurist ... and the only person who walked
over and let children select candy from his pail.
Fear of litigation due to a misplaced flying gumball, perhaps?!
Mum's friend Mumtaz ...

The place that looks after Josephine ...

One of the TH's original friends ...

We're more than just a little hick town, ya know!
Hooray for the train!

Then we had people telling stories:
Courageous director of the Three Hills Arts Academy

Prairie Bible College ...

... welcoming the world!

This was just my cup of tea ...

There were other stories being told, too:
That saxophone player keeps the TH's
behind-the-scenes maintenance on an even keel.
But you won't ever catch him blowing his own horn ...

Go, Thrashers! Maybe this year?

The Kneehill Historical Society Museum - thanks
particularly to Glen, the dapper, gracious gent
in green, for kindly lending the TH some artifacts
and pictures to display for the weekend ...
Fading skills demonstrated by vibrant ladies

The TH's neighbours

Equality. Love. Kindness.
Ideals to which all of us could aspire ...

Here's to the ladies!
They may not have had the flashiest entry ...
but what I know is they consistently win

I'd bank with them even if my sister DIDN'T work there!

Thanks for everything, Diana, Emmy,
Mary Lynne, Cammy, Denise, Stephanie
and - of course - BethAnne!

Oldies but Goodies

My neighbours to the east ...

Three Cheers for the Lodge! This sign reads:
"I am older than Three Hills - 102 years old"

Wes, one of our dear friends, who
valiantly continues to press on

Riding in the back, waving as perfectly as Her Majesty:
Jessie, beloved of many in this town
What parade would be complete without horses?!

One last cheer for another band of pipers, and I had to open the TH for lunch:

We had a frenetically busy day in the TH, with one break long enough to help us rearrange the tables from the group of 18 we had welcomed back to our normal arrangements.

But during that whole afternoon, I must admit to a few pangs of regret that I had not entered into the town spirit and put together a float for the parade. To be quite honest, it didn't occur to me that it would be a good thing to do until I saw the valiant red serge leading the way. I berated myself for not being more organized, for having no imagination, for not thinking ahead.

That evening I went to my computer and up popped a message:


Who said that the Nilgiris Tea House did not participate in the parade?


There was an attached file, which I opened with great curiosity:
There I was, walking in the parade route! 

(Looking so elegantly turned out in my old maroon apron, I might add ...)

I had actually just run out of the kitchen and was trying to catch up with the band to take their picture, but had a few moments of conversation with one of the parade participants on the way ... a Kodak moment, if there is indeed such a thing these days!

And to my friends Rick and Joan - who do have imagination and who take time to observe and appreciate the subtle humour life sometimes offers up in unexpected ways - thank you for ending my day on such a chipper, optimistic note!

It was a GRAND parade ...  Happy Birthday, Three Hills!


  1. Happy Birthday, Three Hills!

  2. Our Tea House is a gem of a place and it even shares its initials with our beautiful has indeed added that special touch of class that this town of ours nevermind if u didn't have a float this's always there in our minds :)

    1. Actually, Zeba, the TH is a jewellery box - the gems are the people who come to it and take it into their hearts and care about it. You are one of the brightest jewels, my dear friend.

  3. Thanks for the great tribute to a really classy parade. It was nice to see so much of it finally:-)

  4. Thanks for letting me see the other side of the parade. I was sitting on the south side so missed out on the people and banners displayed to the north. It was a great parade. It was a great day. It was a great weekend. It was a great celebration. What great people live in this town.

  5. Thanks, Karyn. I was in Nebraska. So getting a glimpse from you gave joy!

  6. Your tea house helps make this town:) That little boy with the mountie suit is our neighbor. His mom is the main secretary at the police office station.Cute eh? it was a great parade:)

    1. Thank you for this! I was asking people over the weekend and no one knew. He was excellent! What a thrill it must have been for him to lead the parade! And he did it with such composure ...

  7. Karyn: Great pics. And commentary.
    The picture immediately following the "welcoming the world" with the couple in white, and the men in black, was actually representing the Canadian Badlands Passion Play, and they would be rushing back to Drumheller to be in the next performance.

    It includes Three Hills performers, and some of them were in the group, including the "bearded" Temple Thug # 3 (?) Coryna Bartsch.

    1. Thanks, Grant! We were a little confused up at the TH parking lot, so I appreciate your clarification. Very kind of them to come all this way for the parade; I hope it generates many new audience members!

      PS Like the avatar - you look like a biker-dude ...

  8. Sorry: didn't know it was going to give my Google name and pic. AKA: Grant Alford. and that really is me in the picture. (Teacher/Mall Hunt disguise)

  9. How do you do it every time?? You take something so big and make it so personal, and it enters our hearts and twists them up a bit till it's lodged there to stay. And what stays is love, every time. Thank you, Karyn. This was a great day to share.

    1. Thank you, Dahling! I LOVED the parade - it was easy to write this one!

  10. Sorry to read of your ongoing hours, but glad to see the TeaHouse represented, however briefly, in the centennial year parade.

  11. hey Karyn. Thanks for the good report of the parade. I'm in the middle of the desert again but I hear through my exclusive grapevine that for the most part it was a good day.
    cheerio for now. See you in a couple months


I love to hear from you! Please leave me a leaf to read ...