The Oscar Goes To…

Let the Festivities begin…

The suspense is over folks! The Oscar goes to Life With The Top Down for her stellar performance as a balloon handler in Philadelphia’s 93rd annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. Insert a standing ovation and roars of applause while the camera pans over to my I won I won I won face. 

It was all I imagined it would be and so much more. I would like to thank my dear friend Susanne for her consistent pleas on Facebook for volunteers to represent the SPCA. And also for signing me up before I even said yes!  If it weren’t for your ability to beg, plead and forge my name, I would not be beaming from ear to ear today. 2012 is the best Thanksgiving on record. 

Mother & Daughter Living the Dream

I would also like to give a HUGE shout out to my daughter for joining me in the shenanigans of the day. Not to mention getting up early, taking pictures and limiting her eye rolling. But, most of all for being by my side as I fulfilled this dream.

Living your dream is not an easy task to tackle. It doesn’t matter if you’re climbing mountains or carrying a 40 foot latex Lorax through the streets of Philadelphia, there will be obstacles and lessons along the journey. Some good, some bad and some……

The day started with getting UP at 2:00a.m., out into the bitter cold by 3:00, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with gold “hair” looking as if I escaped from Disco prison and inflating balloons in the street … all by 3:45 a.m. For the Love of God I never in my life thought that sentence would come from me!

Viewing the Remains

Honestly, there is nothing more disturbing than approaching an alleyway blanketed with deflated cartoon characters. It looked like a crime scene for christ’s sake!  Once the shock wore off we were put to work.

The night before the big show it was brought to my attention that I would also be part of the “Inflation Team”  just something else to beef up the resume. Actually volunteering for this team landed the SPCA a nice donation by the parade coordinators. Life is good! The pleasure was all mine as I assisted in the resuscitation of Clifford the Big Red Dog, The Hungry Caterpillar and of course The Lorax.

Hobnobbing with Sam

I met so many amazing people on this journey. The SPCA volunteers were a genuinely compassionate group of people who were a pleasure to have in my company. Living the dream surrounded by good people was a perk.

We were interviewed by WPVI 6ABC, where I graciously answered the question “Is there anyone here who always wanted to do this? with a very enthusiastic “YES! me…it has always been my dream!” Nothing confirms crazy like silence from a News Reporter. 

Next up was Sam Champion from Good Morning America. This time I stayed back while Susanne & Emily took center stage with Sam. He was so nice, genuine and very easy on the eyes in person. It was very exciting!

A clown with no name

While they were out hobnobbing with celebrities, I chose to spend some quality time with an Auguste a/k/a a Clown. I’ll admit I was a little jealous that they were on National TV. Hey, this is my dream right?  So, what does one do when she’s green with envy? She roams the street looking for her own celebrity, in this case the Christmas Clown. If you’re gonna live it, you gotta do it all….including Christmas Clowns. I’ll admit our relationship was brief. We didn’t exchange names or numbers, but with both walked away with a little extra spring in our step.

While spending some time in our trailer, sipping on an endless supply of hot coffee & cocoa, by trailer I mean Septa bus with hot beverages supplied by the Red Cross, I had the pleasure of meeting “Simon.” This young man was with the wonderful crew of hardworking men who provide these latex beauties for parades all across the country.

He is looking right at me in this shot..I was beaming!

He came in with a big “Hello, how’s everyone doing today” “Are you all having a good time?” No one was spared hearing about my dream, including Simon. I told him my tale of living the dream, when he opened up to me about his dream of wanting to try out for Xfactor, he was a singer. I said “show me what you got…sing me a song.”  After some intense begging, he took my challenge.

This brave young man began to snap his fingers, tap his foot and provide us all with an AMAZING version of Lady In My Life by Michael Jackson. It was indeed a memorable moment that will not be forgotten anytime soon. Not many people can take on an icon like MJ, but this 18-year-old did and he nailed it!  The rest of his story is for another post. That’s all I can say is, I’m much whiter than I thought.

Getting ready to our entrance

FINALLY around 7:30 we headed out onto the street to get the Lorax ready for his debut. We didn’t actually get into the parade line until around 9:00, which meant standing in the cold for over an hour while we held the balloon. At this point one of the other handlers offered me a swig of vodka from her flask. Seriously? I told her ” I can’t drink, I’m operating heavy equipment.” forgetting she also had a damn rope! Just imagine getting a DUI for walking a Lorax while intoxicated…come on. 

Once we began our journey down JFK Blvd., greeted by thousands of people screaming Happy Thanksgiving and chanting Spin It! Spin It! Spin It! I was beaming like a glowworm.

We willfully met the demands of the crowd by running in circles with the balloon.They roared with enthusiasm as we scored a perfect 10 for our performance.  Meanwhile with every “Spin it” I peed a little…mind you, this went on for hours. NOTE  TO SELF: Wear A Diaper. 

The Grand Finale

As we approached the Grand Stand our Captain informed us we will be on TV, so this was our moment to shine just a little brighter. This is when it occurred to me that I lost my Disco hair 4 “Spin Its” back and I was walking in soaking wet pee pants! It’s not exactly what I imagined, but the dream must go on.

I put on my camera face, gripped my rope a little tighter and handled that latex Lorax like a boss!

Live your dreams and Enjoy The Ride! 


35 responses

  1. My favorite thanksgiving story ever! I laughed out loud twice and people looked at me like I’m crazy. Just enjoying the ride! 😉


  2. Hilarious! You deserve an award for this! I do have one piece of advice for you — Depends!


    1. Hahahaha! I can honestly say they will be considered if I ever decide to partake in balloon handling or jogging again.


  3. Long Live the Lorax…and it’s handler! (even if she does have a bladder matter…LOL)


    1. No one, and I mean NO one informs you of the random peeing issue…


  4. Now that’s A Ride!
    I had a crazy morning yesterday and missed the Lorax! I am so bummed! Do you have any video of it? I looked on line and Youtube and couldn’t find it! Bummed…..


    1. It certainly was a ride Susie! I’ve been searching for the clip of me being interviewed…lord knows they probably put it in a vault.


      1. I looked too! I am sure it is out there… 🙂


  5. What a fun thing to do. I have done lots of things, but never been in a parade. With you daughter too. Oh yes, I do know the eye rolling.


    1. When I was insisting that the young man sing, her face was priceless…lol


  6. What a fabulous time you must have had, and probably quite exhausted afterwards. I loved the whole story.


    1. It was fabulous, but exhausting beyond measure. I did’t come down from my excitement until Friday night!


  7. Sounds like a really unique experience and a whole lot of fun. Well done you for living the dream and honing your intrepid reporter skills :).


    1. Unique is a very good description….lol It was something I would never do, but had the best time doing it.


  8. An Oscar-winning performance (and story) for sure, Tops! WELL DONE!


  9. Michelle Gillies | Reply

    Well done! Not many people can say they are living their dream in pee pants and no disco hair. I so wish I had witnessed this. Congratulations on a terrific day and a great story to carry with you always.


  10. In honor of the Lorax, I suggest organic cotton pee pads.


  11. Lovely post.
    Such a great time for a really worthy cause.


    1. Nothing better than having fun while helping the fur! Thanks for stopping by.


  12. Disco hair, pee pants, and giant balloons…..yes that sounds like Thanksgiving! I bet you made the best latex engineer out there!


    1. You know it! I asked everyone about the earmuffs and NO ONE had a concrete answer. I saw ear muffs and hats of every kind, including a giant raccoon. Laws were broken from one balloon to the next!


  13. I was hoping you would write about the parade! It’s truly everything I could have hoped for you and more (without the peeing stuff of course). Thanks for letting us be a part of your dream 🙂


  14. And here I am stuck in a place without balloons, just tractors pulling floats.

    How cool for you!


    1. That is indeed a tragedy. You should start a campaign in your town demanding balloons..this is America for god sakes! Thanks for stopping by.


  15. “The day started with getting UP at 2:00a.m., out into the bitter cold by 3:00, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with gold “hair” looking as if I escaped from Disco prison and inflating balloons in the street … all by 3:45 a.m. For the Love of God I never in my life thought that sentence would come from me!”

    I’m so glad it did though! I wish I could view life with the level of humor that you seem to be able to.


    1. My daughter is typical type A personality, the serious, quiet, observer. I think she was actually horrified at one point. The world can be a scary place, which is why I look for the humor.


  16. Congratulations! I’m so glad the day went so well for you!


  17. Deliberately Delicious | Reply

    Wow! When you wrote about being a balloon handler, I had no idea that you would be wrangling such a behemoth. (In my small town Canadian reality, balloon handlers in parades carry a bouquet of regular helium types…) Truly living the dream!


  18. This is great, you look so happy. Love the deflated balloons/crime scene. Love how your humor pushes to the front of the line no matter what. A real gift you have. I think you should have been on national TV too, I mean come on, elves are people too for lack of a better term. Where would Santa be without them and where would Mr. Balloon have ended up without you to make sure he stayed in formation. Next year things are going to be different. All nonsense aside, happy for you.


  19. PS PIssed I just saw this. Could have been laughing a lot sooner.


  20. Oh, I am so glad you shared this exciting journey! I’m sure you will never forget living your dream, all the colorful characters and the catchy “up” atmosphere. What a lucky duck you are – and for the SPCA too! A great cause. Thanks for taking us along with you through all the fun (with the exception of the pee pants of course). 🙂


  21. Yay you!! I was watching the Macy’s parade and telling dear hubby about you. I was thinking of you and am so glad to read about it. Are you going to do it again next year? I am so proud of you! DAF


    1. I would never have thought it was going to be that much fun!


  22. […] years Thanksgiving Day Parade here in Philly. If you’re new you can read about it right here The Oscar Goes To. That’s the victim right there on the left.  He is a Humane Law Enforcement Officer, not to […]


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