There with a chair, first
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
“Good evening, Wenatchee. This is Bill of the Bill, Bill and Bill Show, and you know what time it is. In just a few minutes it will be the day we’ve all been waiting for. Thursday.
“That’s right, Bill. When that readout says midnight. But you know, it’s not just any old Thursday.
“No, that’s for sure, Bill. It’s the first Thursday of the 114th Washington State Apple Blossom Festival, and you know what that means.”
“Yes we do, Bill. That means it’s time ...
“Let’s say it together ...
“It’s time for ... THE RUNNING OF THE CHAIRS.”
“What a great tradition, for going on 20 years now. And we’re happy to bring you all the action here on radio KPTU, your home for hits of the oughts and teens. There’s a big crowd outside the famed Apple Bowl ready to cheer on their favorite chair in the annual scramble. They are breathless with anticipation, Bill.”
“They sure are. You can hear the chanting already. We all know the rules. Chairs and runners are lined up behind the goal line in the Apple Bowl. At the stroke of midnight the cannons fire, and the participants run down Orondo Avenue trying to claim the best viewing spots for the Stemilt Growers Grand Parade.”
“You gotta be there with the chair, Bill. Can’t get the view without the pew. First to show up with a seat gets the spot.”
“Heh. But watch out for claim jumpers.”
“Right, Bill. To help provide perspective we have Apple Blossom Festival Director General Bill Williams here. Bill, how did this all come about?”
“Well, Bill, back around the turn of the century, people could just plop a chair down on the parade route and claim a space, anywhere they wanted. When I was a kid I remember people would put their chairs out four, five or even six weeks in advance. They marked off claims with twine and crime scene tape. Orondo, from Apple Bowl to Avenue, looked like a low-grade junk shop. They did that for years.”
“Anywhere they wanted? Any time they wanted? On city property? Gosh. Sounds like chaos.”
“It was, Bill. A mess. After that big lawsuit, the City Council decided to put its foot down, and banned parade chairs until the Thursday before the Keyes Fibre Youth Parade. Then people wanted to be there earlier and earlier on that Thursday. One thing led to another ...
“And we got the midnight chair stampede. Cool.”
“Only in Wenatchee, Bill. Apple Blossom fever. We’ve got it bad.”
“Well, the countdown starts. Mayor Lynch Kuntz Jr. is ready to fire the starting cannon. Here’s the deal. You can stake a claim with as many chairs or seating devices as one person can haul. You’re allowed one carrying device, a wagon or a dolly or something. Hey look, there’s a woman trying to load about 30 of those old-fashioned plastic lawn chairs, like my mom used to buy at Lowe’s.”
“Wasn’t that the store down by Town Aston Martin-Range Rover Center, before the Stan’s merger?”
“Right, Bill. Before the Wild won the Stanley Cup.”
“I love nostalgia. And look, there’s a guy with a classic. Looks like a 1972 Barcalounger.”
“Wow, tan vinyl imitation alligator upholstery with the massage option. In cherry condition. Don’t see those much anymore. He won’t see much parade at full tilt, but the judges will love it.”
“And there’s the gun, and they’re off. There’s going to be quite a scramble for the prime territory. Ooh, watch it. There’s a bench crash at Orondo and Alaska. Look’s like nobody’s hurt.
“Yes, but it’s all over. The primo spot at Orondo and Washington goes to, once again, I’m Here First Shirley.
“She’s back with the Adirondack, Bill.”
“That’s how dedication and training pay off, Bill. We love this festival. We love this parade. Back with more after this ...”
Tracy Warner’s column appears Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at email@example.com or 665-1163.
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