14 February 1998 - Galveston, TX USA
Ok, so I'm digging through a box that the Heather & David Polke sent me and (amid MIB pez, and Pez refills, yes plural...), is a pile of gold tinsel which I thought it was shipping padding. But wait...
Wrapped ever so gently inside is a FANTASY MARDI GRAS PezPal! This is awsome! Its a PezPal boy, with an ornate purple crown and mardiGras beads. Please forgive me, but I'm not throwing him out to the crowd! He goes on the car (somehow, somewhere)!
Place: Galveston Bay, Texas
It was a cool, grey, dreary day. It rained a little on they way down. No roof on the PezCar, undaunted, we pressed on. Only passed 3 cops on our trip. No inspection sticker... Getting stopped would have been bad. When we complete our 45 mile journey we drive down the seawall to get a feel for what we are up against. Its 3pm-ish and people are already setting up chairs for the 6:30pm parade. This is going to be BIG. From 12th to 59th street, just over 6 miles.
Seawall Blvd is 6 lanes wide with a turn lane in the middle. On either side is a very wide sidewalk approximately 20 to 25 feet in width. What I'm getting at is that the street is quite wide.
The chocolate colored water to our left has a heavy chop, waves at about 4 to 8 feet. (The bay, being somewhat agitated, was carrying quite a bit of sediment, and off color from the normal clear green)
Now to this scene, add people. Lots of people. Some 350,000 people spread along the 6 mile strip on either side. People were 30 feet deep on each side. The parade vehicles had essentially 1 lane to drive down.
The "Mardi Gras" floats proper are lining up, the bands are ready, the fire truck and "other" (which is what the PezCar is to them...) vehicles were staged.
One of the local radio stations had a party bus ahead of us and the morning shock jock came out to say hello. I gave him a Taz which he seemed to enjoy. Had to show him how to fill it. I'll listen tomorrow to see if he says anything about it.
Still more people are lining up. The sun goes down, street gets darker, and the street lights come on. The Parade starts.
The big Mardi Gras floats go first and they are "raining" beads as they enter into the crowd. (Its traditional for the floats to throw beads or trinkets into the crowd). Turns out that we are in the last third of this rather long procession.
Two other art cars show up, (ToyBoata A boat that has been cutup and placed around a Toyota frame, and a VW Bus with a really cool paint job). Neither of them have beads to throw.
I fortunately planned on this and bought (what we thought was a) ton of beads to throw out along with the very generous donation of Pez candy that people sent me.
The crowd looks "too" big. So my friend Randy Lemmon (part owner in the car) offers to skate around the car and "wack" the hands of no-gooders who try to "help themselves" to Pez on the Car. This, as it turns out, was an extremely good idea.
I'm driving, my wife Sherri is in the backseat with a friend Heather Konlande, whos jobs it is to throw the beads and candy out to everyone.
This is great. The car is extremely well recieved. (is it because we are bribing them with candy and beads...) People are screaming and hollering "COOL THE PEZCAR!", or (and I list in the order that I heard them): That car is PHAT That car is TIGHT That car is SWEET That car is AWSOME What the hell is that car? PEZ! I love PEZ, give me some candy! (ala Adam Sandler...)
What I didn't expect is that the parade would be as long as it was, and that there would be so many people that are so rabid. It really was quite a sureal experience. All at the same time, it was exhilerating and scarry.
As people would throw beads and such, sometimes, they would land in the street. Kids would dart out into the street and grab them as you are driving (Almost running them over). I was on the horn for the entire 3 hours of the parade.
At times, the parade stacked up and there would be a pause. When that happened, people would come close to the car. I mean like sticking there head into the windows, begging for dispensers (which we didn't have), and candy (which we ran out of in the last third of the parade). Virtually EVERYONE wanted the candy as opposed to the beads. It was amazing. So to those who donated candy, you guys quite literally saved the PezCar! It would have been a disaster without it.
These people were NUTS! Parents sending children into the street to grab trinkets, girls raising there tops to get your attention, people rushing the car... It was out of control. Our saving grace was that we had our "enforcer" circling the car on skates telling folks to backoff.
It was not all as bad as I'm making it out to be. There where literaly hundreds of thousands of people who were well behaved! Some would throw bead TO US! They would come up to the car, and say, that the car was awsome, and they would GIVE US killer beads as a way of saying thanks for coming! It floored us. Others were playing the ringtoss game by throwing beads at the car to ring a pez! (Every throw a winner!) It was really cool. You should have been there.
For those who went, sorry I didn't see you, but things were all a blur.
Alas, we did have some casualties... One guy came out of the crowd and reached over and plucked a snoopy right off the trunk. In addition, ToyBoata the boat car actually REAR ENDED US! The parade had paused, and all of a sudden BLAM! We lurch forward, and I hear this crackling noise. 5 dead soldiers on the trunk, and a minor dent. When it was all said and done, some 50 Pez lost there lives in the battle (mostly on the bumpers). They served with distinction. The PezCar, as always, was victorious.
45 miles miles back to home, 9 COPS this time (YIKES) and we are home safe and sound. Rest assured that I will be restoring the car to its pre Mardi Gras condition the Pez-A-Thon.
Lessons learned: Bring more candy and have more enforcers.
The following pictures were take from the float ahead of us. We were moving, they were moving and it was dark, so they aren't the best, but you can see Randy Lemmon, Heather Konlande and Sherri Lee smiling. If you look hard, you can see me in the drivers seat. Well, maybe not. On the original photo you can?!?
Once again, A note of Thanks to the member of the Pezhead Email list for providing doantion of Pez Candy and dispensers to be used as "Throws". Particularly Rick Roberts, who quite literally saved our lives with his large donation. ("Throws" is a new term I learned which refers to the trinkets you throw out during Mardi Gras).