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Chat with Phil Bradley about the Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade

November 28, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade board member Phil Bradley will join us for an online chat Wednesday at 1:30 to discuss the annual parade, set for Saturday in downtown Lawrence.

Moderator:

Thanks for joining us for today's chat with Phil Bradley about the Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade coming up on Saturday.

Phil Bradley:

I'm happy to be here. I'll do my best to represent this fine parade and answer any and all questions.

Moderator:

For starters, please give us some of the basics on the event. What time does it start? How long will it last? How many entries?

Moderator:

By the way, this is Cody Howard, 6News Director, moderating today's chat.

Phil Bradley:

The parade starts at 11 a.m. at 7th and Massachusetts Streets and continues south to 13th Street.
One of the interesting new things this year is Sunflowerbroadband Channel 6 will be broadcasting from 7th and New Hampshire live so they will see all of the entries just before they enter Massachusetts Street. This would be a great place for some folks to watch the parade as well as along Mass. At 7th Street, Marty Kennedy and Chris Merrill will be announcing the parade for the all the watchers. And at 9th Street, Jana Dobbs and myself will be describing the parade and entertaining the crowd. And finally at 11th Street, by the Douglas County Courthouse, Kim Murphree, of the Lawrence Police Department, will be announcing the parade as well.

chewyfally:

What kind of music is set for the parade, if any?

Phil Bradley:

Because all of the entries have to be horse drawn or rider groups we have not had any "bands" enter. We certainly could in the future if they can find a way to meet those criteria. Aside from that, there will be music played through the P.A. systems at the various announcing stands before and during breaks. And at 9th Street we will have our traditional group singing (that's you in the crowd, folks) led by Jana and myself.

Bassetlover:

I'm excited about the Clydesdale horses making an appearance and understand they will be traveling quite a long distance from the east coast to participate. Though I am reluctant to wave the animal rights flag on this issue, I must admit my heart goes out to them for having to endure such a long trip (as well as the other horses in the parade). What precautions do you know of that insure their health and well-being during such an arduous journey?

Phil Bradley:

The Express Personnel Clydesdales will be appearing near the front of the parade. We are very proud and glad to have them here. They will be coming directly from their appearance at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. They have participated in the past in the Chicago St. Patrick's Day, the Fiesta Bowl, Kentucky Derby, the Orange Bowl, Calgary Stampede and 2007 Rose Bowl parades. Their caretakers have massive amounts of experience in transporting these magnificent animals over long distances. In fact, they will probably be more comfortable than I was on coach flying recently. The specifics of care for each entry are the responsibility of their human caretakers. These animals appear to me to actually enjoy parading and exhibiting their skills to folks. I am unaware of specific arrangements, however, if you are interested, please feel free to contact me or the Express Personnel office here in Lawrence and we will endeavor to get you your answers.

Moderator:

Please fill us in on a little history of parade.

Phil Bradley:

This is the 15th year for the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade. It began as an idea of a local resident who had pulling horses. He gathered a group of folks and told them of his dream and asked them to help. They did so and Rob Phillips, who at that time owned the Eldridge Hotel, and his many hard working friends started this parade. Their dream was to have a parade exclusively dedicated to the old-fashioned, true-to-period horse drawn or ridden parade. This year, we have formalized the entry requirements that we have been using since the beginning to ensure that the parade remains true to this vision. For example, to ride an individual horse you must be part of a riding group of at least six, costumed or appropriately dressed for the holiday. And also, the wheeled entries must be true to the period, i.e., we don't allow modern tires and wheels. When Rob was no longer able to organize the parade, and it actually looked like the future might be in jeopardy, we were extremely fortunate to have CornerBank step forward and take on this huge responsibility. They not only are a major sponsor, they also bring employees from all of their Kansas branches, at the bank's expense, to work at the parade and ensure that it is the quality event that we in Lawrence enjoy.

Moderator:

Other than the Clydesdales discussed earlier, what can you tell us about some of the other entries.

Phil Bradley:

For the first time this year, we have Friesian horse riders from Kansas City. These are a rare, noble and extremely valuable breed of horses from the Netherlands, originally. They are probably best known as horses for the warring knights of the Norman armies and as riding horses for the noble houses of Europe. Also, we will, of course, have Santa Claus in a sleigh, even if there isn't snow. We also have a stagecoach, a hearse, various doctors' buggies and the popular vis-a-vis rigs. We also have the Saddle and Sirloin riding group from Kansas City and the General's Own Color Guard from Fort Riley -- a six-horse group that is totally dressed and outfitted in period wear and equipment. They will lead off our parade and Santa will finish. We have many, many more entries over 80 quality entries as we described above.

Moderator:

Is this a commercial parade?

Phil Bradley:

Unlike many of the other fine parade in Lawrence, we do not allow "commercial" entries that are specifically promoting their individual businesses. The parade, in order to pay for all the expenses -- which include: providing free to the entrants dinner with dancing, and for those coming from a distance, lodging -- has many wonderful sponsors. For a small fee of $200 anyone may sponsor one of the entries and we acknowledge them by having their name carried on a sign on the parade entry. We have over 80 sponsors already and welcome anyone else who would like to participate. Those are the commercial aspects, if you will. The entries are welcome to have whoever they wish ride in their rigs with them, but we have never had specific entries promoting a cause or candidate. The Express Personnel Clydesdales are raising money for their chosen charity, the Children's Miracle Network, outside of the official parade. In fact, they are raffling for suggested donation, two seats in their wagon for this parade.

Moderator:

We hate to think about this, but the weather forecast shows a chance of freezing precipitation Saturday morning. What happens in the event of bad weather?

Phil Bradley:

Well, Cody, that depends on your definition of 'bad.' In the past, we have had snow, which made for a beautiful parade, and rain, which made for a damp parade. We have had subfreezing temperatures which forced our thousands and thousands of viewers to bundle up and only expose their eyes. All these were wonderful parades with great attendance. I suppose, for a hurricane, we would have to cancel the parade, or even a tornado. But for normal weather conditions of this time of year, there is generally only one that we can't handle, and that is...ice. If you can imagine someone as unsvelt as I am in hockey rink without skates...and how terrible that would be, then you can imagine how tragic it would be to have these magnificent animals on paved streets covered with ice. We have experienced horsemen and women who volunteer their time to assist in managing this parade. They, along with the parade committee, consulting with law enforcement and weather experts, will have the final decision if it becomes necessary to consider canceling or delaying the parade. Our first criteria and concern will be the safety of the animals and the spectators. Other than that, we hope everyone will come downtown early and stay late and enjoy the holiday shopping and festive atmosphere of the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade.

Moderator:

That concludes today's chat. Our thanks to Phil Bradley for joining us today.

Phil Bradley:

Thanks for the opportunity. Hope to see lots of folks young and old downtown on Saturday.

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