Saturday, July 7, 2012

Philadelphia Freedom (Elton John)

June 30-July 6

Oh, Philadelphia freedom, shine on me; I love you
Shine a light through the eyes of the ones left behind
Shine a light shine a light
Shine a light; won't you shine a light?
Philadelphia freedom, I love you; yes, I do

Never a dull week around here.

I began the week down the shore, as any good Jersey girl should in the summer, where I met my new nephew-dog, an 11 week old pug named Stoli who belongs to my brother, Rob, and his fiance, Mike.  Typically I am a cat person, but this dog is adorable and he loves his Auntie Jeanne. 

The family was very understanding of the fact that I needed to decompress a little, ok, maybe a lot, and did their best to divert my attention.  I was left to bake myself on the beach during the day and then at night we all went out to play.  The temps were record breaking and the humidity was awful, but just being down the shore made it all ok. 

I convinced Rob and Mike to come play Skee Ball and although I had fun, I really stink at the game.  However, after feeding tons of quarters into these ancient machines, I got all these tickets which I could turn in for a prize.  I glanced at all the rubber snakes, bouncy balls, and fake tattoos and couldn't figure out what to get.  Mike gave me his tickets and I had a brainstorm.  I told Mike to help me find a worthy looking kid who would appreciate the tickets.  I found a little girl in a polka dot skirt, clearly fashion savvy at age 4 or 5 and she looked to be struggling at the games, so I walked up to her mom and explained that although I liked playing the games, I was a little too old for the prizes.  Would her daughter like them.  She was thrilled and I got that warm and fuzzy feeling.  It felt so good, I made my brother Rob give his away too. 

After skee ball it was off to get some of the best popcorn ever.  Fisher's caramel popcorn is made right there on the premises.  The butter and sugar are melted in giant copper pots and the popcorn is popped in machines that look like giant dryers.  The popcorn is thrown in the pots when the sugar caramelizes and then dumped into the display areas where it is constantly stirred by the staff until they scoop it fresh into a plastic tub and seal it up.  It is divine! 

So what do you do with a baby pug while you are at the beach and out playing?  You put him in his pug playpen.  I am not kidding. 

It was a much needed three days of relaxation and I returned to NJ Tuesday night feeling like I now had some of the answers I had been looking for. 

Just as well, Wednesday was the 4th of July 6abc parade in Philadelphia!

Ok, I admit, when I first got the invitation to be in this parade, I laughed and didn't actually consider the offer.  Who would want to see a teacher in a parade?  Upon reflection, I decided if they wanted to honor teachers, I would be happy to participate.  It was then that I found out that my fellow STOY from Delaware, Amber Augustus, was going to be participating too.  I was thrilled. 

I brought my brother, both as bodyguard (you can never tell how people are going to react to teachers) and as an eyewitness, because I thought this might just be a bizarre experience.  I am so glad he came with me. 

 It was boiling hot, we are in the midst of a 10 day heat wave on the east coast but I can say now that it was one of the highlights of my NJ TOY year.
First of all, check out my ride, a red 64 Chevy Impala convertible.  Sweet!  And I got to ride on the back of it.

Amber had a nice ride too. 

These guys marched in front of us.  They were tremendous!  Look how young some of the kids are in the back.

When we finally got moving and entered the parade route, it was surreal.  Cameras and people everywhere.  I can only compare it to walking into the East Room at the White House after meeting the President.  All eyes and cameras were on you.  Then the cheering began. 

Almost immediately we were at the reviewing stand.  I almost didn't notice (too busy waving and smiling) until I saw myself on the jumbotron and heard the announcers.  They liked my wave.

The whole experience was just surreal.  People cheered, yelled thank you, and congratulations and all because I am a teacher.  They cheered louder because I was a teacher.  It was overwhelming and I admit, I teared up...and not just once.  Between the sweat, suntan lotion and tears in my eyes, I was glad I had my shades. 
The kids on the route were the best.  I tried to wave at every one of them. 

Thanks especially to these volunteers who carried the sign in front of my car.  I got to keep the sign, but what do I do with it?

The parade was great, the car was cool and it was simply an amazing experience. 
 Thanks Philly, YOU ROCK!

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