in the Fur Rondy Parade
by Michael R Dougherty
Here comes the Rondy Parade
If you were in a marching band in Anchorage's yearly February, Fun Rendezvous Parade, there were three things you always worried about.
Would you slip and fall in front of the assembled crowd on a patch of snow-covered ice?
Would you be marching behind horses? Horses leave “things” behind.
And would your musical instrument freeze up as you march along?
For anyone who lived, or still lives in or near Anchorage, the yearly Fur Rendezvous was and is a welcome February break, filled with plenty of fun things to do. There are events like the Fur Auction, Snow Shoe Baseball and the World Champion Sled Dog Races. There are also Outhouse Races, a melodrama, and carnival rides.
You could sit in the warmth of your home and watch the festivities on television, or you could bundle up and take in any number of fun events all over town.
Now earlier I mentioned the Rondy Parade, which always included entries from civic groups and floats of all kinds.
One year a float was feverishly being constructed with hammers and saws working fast and furious as the float went along the parade route. A sign on the float read “we thought it was "next week.” The float got plenty of laughs from the happy crowd.
And of course, there were marching bands.
Yes, even though it was cold outside, the local school bands were out in force.
I attended East High School and played trumpet in the advanced symphonic band under the direction of Mr. James Everly. The advanced band played concerts, played for all the football and basketball games, and marched in the Fur Rondy Parade.
Now marching in the parade was a privilege and a lot of fun. But it did pose a few problems.
First, we had to march on snow and ice. And that meant while marching in step, you might hit a slick patch and fall to the snowy ground in front of everyone along the parade route, including the live TV audience. Talk about teen insecurity.
Secondly, if you were marching behind a group of horses, or even one horse, you had to be extra careful not to step in what the horses may have left behind. Worse yet, you worried about slipping on a slick patch of ice and snow and falling into something the horses left behind. Ugh and double ugh.
Now it's important for me to point out that I do not ever recall anyone in our band who slipped on the ice and fell, or anyone who stepped in what horses leave behind.
Thirdly, there was always the possibility that your musical instrument would freeze up. When I marched in the Fur Rondy Parade in the 1960s, my trumpet valves froze up solid about halfway through the parade every time out. So, there I was, “pretending” to play my trumpet.
If you have ever lived in Anchorage, or still do, the Fur Rendezvous Festival is an event everyone looks forward to. It was a great escape from those long winter days and nights.
But if you march in the Rondy Parade, just remember to look down once in a while.