Rain on My Paradeby Karin Hu
We all hope to have good weather on the night of the parade. Don’t rain on my parade, right? But what are the chances when you hold a parade in the middle of the winter?
To increase the chance for good weather, my Dad, Parade Director Jackson Hu, said he would cover all the bases. He asked the priest at the Catholic church to pray for good weather. He asked the priests at the Buddhist and Taoist temples to pray for good weather. He asked anyone else with heavenly influence, to pray for good weather on the night of the parade. Despite this intense religious lobbying, sometimes it would rain on the parade.
Parade participants are instructed to prepare for the possibility of rain. Have clear rain parkas so costumes can still be seen. Use water-resistant float decorations. And if you’re a no-show because of rain, you won’t be invited to participate again. We go, “rain or stars” because the show must go on.
What’s it like to be in a rainy parade? When I was young, my sisters and I would be smiling monks accompanying the Eight Immortals. Our costume was a brightly colored robe wrapped over our street clothes, and covering our faces was a full head papier-mâché mask of a smiling monk. We would run, frolic, and do funny walks and other playful antics to entertain the crowds. Since our heads were completely covered by the masks, we were anonymous and felt free to be silly. What fun! Being in the rain was OK since physical activity kept us warm even though we were wet. The masks kept the rain off our heads.
Over the years watching the parade, I remember sometimes the weather was mild, almost too warm. Other times, it could be wet & rainy. One year I was sitting on the curb during a rainstorm watching the parade, as well as watching a river of water run down the gutter, soaking my shoes. But no matter how wet, we always stayed till the end of the parade, waiting for the parade’s climax, for Gum Lung, the Golden Dragon. Mere mortals might wish for dry weather, but people say, “The dragon loves rain!” And perhaps a happy dragon would bring all of us good luck for the New Year.