Monday, September 28, 2009

Wet Behind The Ears

With the season for outdoor spectacle beginning to wane, we've stepped up our efforts to get in on what's out there, before it's all gone. This past weekend included a look at Amherst's 250th birthday parade, (and an additional contribution to several other eye-witness accounts...)

Arriving in our usual timely manner, about half an hour's worth of the parade had already marched by when we finally shuffled ourselves up to the curb. But there was still plenty of parade left...

Kelly and I were once finely honed escape artists. Like firemen on stand-by we were geared up, rolling and ready to pounce on the outdoors at a moment's notice. But for the time being our mission readiness has to adjust just a sconch until our newest, rookie member cuts her teeth...


Anyway, all good things take time...

These rolling dancers have made quite the circuit this summer, we've seen them on at least three different occasions.

Cowls lumber apparently picked up a stowaway or two, on their way back from a logging expedition.

An approaching regiment of maroon and gold signified the UMass Minutemen Band was on the march.

The rain, which only an hour before was coming down steadily, had fortuitously taken a coffee break just in time for the parade, but some of the more sensitive equipment was still covered up, just in case.

Religion and science called a truce long enough to make their cases before the crowds.

This lady wins for most unexpected outfit.

Parades are well suited for children, what with all the colors, sound and activity. It's a kid's world...

We adults are just borrowing it.

Our military personnel from all eras past and present were dutifully represented...

...and never forgotten.

Amherst's Food Pantry took a break from the kitchen and formed a raucous assembly.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about doing some volunteer work, maybe around the holidays, maybe at a food pantry like this. They quietly do their work helping people who, for whatever reason, have not been able to help themselves. Some of us have been in that situation or close to it, and most of us never realize how important these people's work is until it's needed.

Possibly the most famous of this particular group of samaritans was sighted in their midst...

Samaritans of other stripes came stepping along, such as these people from the Dakin animal shelters promoting adoption, with a little canine help...

A street musician named Motown Bernie roused the crowd with that Tally-Man song, chiding us until we sang "DAAYYYYYY-O!" loud enough...

Finally the Shriners flew in with their usual aplomb, to wrap up the festivities.

Amherst's 250th was a wet one, but a good one.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Autism Walks

One of Kelly's friends is involved in the effort to help those with autism, and asked her to participate in the "Walk Now For Autism" fundraiser at Stanley Park in Westfield. I was invited by loaded.

I had never heard of this event and wasn't really expecting anything too big to see; I envisioned a few dozen people doing a jovial little jaunt around the park. But when we got there, we saw throngs of people walking along the sidewalks, and we were directed to park our car about a mile down the road, and take one of the shuttle buses back to the starting area....

This was to be no small fundraiser. In fact, it turned out to be an event with some three to four thousand participants.

Most were formed up in 'teams' of various size. Many were apparently family and friends, with t-shirts named for a specific person with autism that they were walking for...

...some of the teams were named for the general cause of autism, and several sponsored by local businesses. As with any large event, some brought their own particular sense of style.

After everyone was registered and massed in the assembly area, the walk began, with the long column enthusiastically stepping out under an archway of balloons.

Kelly and the bloggerette filed in with her friend and were swept off,

...while I flanked along the train of people, taking pictures.

The walkers exited to the street and made a wide loop around the soccer fields before coming back in to the park.

I cut across the fields to intercept the main body of walkers on the return leg.

Here, the long column had widened and amassed into a long, multicolored flood of people...

...that just kept coming...

...and coming. In waves.

It was an impressive display of local volunteerism, support, and sponsorship for a developmental disorder that affects many millions of people.

...and I was proud to see my own teammates participating in such a worthy event.

Kelly's friend Pam Herveaux and her team, which raised over $2000 dollars, (a considerable amount), was awarded "Grand Club" membership for their effort.

The column triumphantly came filing back into the starting area, for food, music and celebration.

According to Autism Speak's website, total donations from the event totalled over $82,000.

For people dealing with autism, it's a step in the right direction.