I was very excited when I received my invitation from our friends over at the Grand Ole Opry to participate in the Verrry Merrry Christmas Parade (VMCP). Now, before you get too excited, let me explain that this is no ordinary parade! One snowy day back in 2005, someone in the Opry Marketing Department (name won't be divulged) was in the storage room trying to find something, and as he was moving the vaccum cleaner, he began singing "Rockin' Around the Vaccuum Sweep." Just about the time he finished the song, Dan (oops....name divulged) looked up to find a coworker looking at him asking: "What are you doing?" Dan replied, "Getting ready for the office parade in which each of us will utilize something in the storage closet." And so the parade was born! The parade organizers will tell you that although they battle inclement weather (I don't know how inclement the weather can be INSIDE), the attendance continues to increase every year. Twelve folks lined the conference room table that first year, and on this, the third year, the conference room table was actually moved to accomodate more seating, SIXTEEN, for the growing audience.
Now that I've given you the history of the VMCP, let me tell you about our "float". Since we really didn't know what to expect, we decided to incorporate, what else for a Christmas parade, a little Valentine's Day theme! Using our "LUV'n You Is What We Do" Southwest banner (yes, I'm sure you've all seen it hanging in our airports on LUV day!), we took the liberty and added an additional message to the bottom of the banner....."Only 60 more days until V-Day"! You all know how we can't even get through one holiday before the stores are celebrating the next one, right? That was our crazy thought behind our "float". AND...yes, it was from our storage room, along with our inflatable airplane hats that we wore!
We were excited to find out we were second in the parade route (Opry Marketing office) lineup, only behind the fire engine. Accompanied by the VMCP band, we were ready for our big entrance. The parade announcer, Jackie, began reading our intro..."We are happy to report the Verrry Merrry Christmas Parade now has a corporate sponsor. Coming down the parade route now, please welcome our friends from Southwest Airlines accompanied by the VMCP marching band! Remember, nothing says "Blue Christmas" like getting charged extra fees out the ying-yang for those holiday bags on your flight home to Pittsburgh! Fly Southwest. No Hidden Fees. Just Christmas cheer!" Needless to say, especially after Jackie read the "No Hidden Fees" line, cheers from the audience abrupted and we knew our float was a hit! Since you weren't able to enjoy it in person, I can't go without listing the other parade entrants: Opry Holiday Twirlers, Miss Yule Log 1957, Tammy Why-Not, Snarf the Misfit Elf and his Wagon of Misfit Opry Toys (not sure how an extra Southwest inflatable plane got in that wagon?), Rockin' Around the Christmas Sweep, special celebrity guest Gretchen Wilson, Mrs. Jeffrey Hyde, the Christmas Bride, Russian dancer Nikolia Corchevski, Funshine Bear, Barney Gift Box, Opry Marketing and Sales Ribbon Dancers and Living Christmas Tree, Mary Catherine Gallagher, the Rockettes, and last, but certainly not least, straight from the North Pole, Clower Clause!
Yes, it was definitley an afternoon to remember. I've already started scouting my storage closet for next year, if I'm invited back. I'm pretty sure we will be. We were just as good (or should I say bad) as everyone else in the Verry Merry Christmas Parade. I would highly recommend this FUN, and certainly not expensive, holiday activity for your office. Believe me, many laughs will roar and the holiday spirit will be in full swing! Wishing you all a happy Holiday Season and best in 2009!