Candy & Old Gorillas
Part of the fun of living in our community is that feels like a small town. Except. It isn’t. Most small towns don’t have amusement parks and Bass Pro shops.
My dad grew up in Altoona. His childhood home still stands along with the first pool in the city of Altoona which happened to be at my dad’s childhood home. When he was a young boy, his family would come home to find neighbors swimming in their pool. They didn’t care and enjoyed being the favorite hang out spot.
Although we are technically from Pleasant Hill, we previously (up until about five years ago) were considered Runnells. Basically, we are from Southeast Polk since we’ve lived in three of the four cities it encompasses. It doesn’t hurt that our land adjoins the school’s. If you’re lucky, you can hear the marching band practicing in the early morning when you play golf.
We have a favorite time of the year in our Southeast Polk community. That’s called Homecoming Week. My dad was a graduate of Altoona High School. My brother, sister and I are all graduates of Southeast Polk. In fact, my Uncle Steve, was in Southeast Polk’s first graduating class.
In other words. We have roots.
Because we can’t help ourselves, we have to go big or go home when it comes to our parade antics. Those include making sure we have plenty of candy. (Good candy, too. Suckers make terrible candy for parades.) It also includes making complete fools of ourselves in costumes which represent the festivity of the Homecoming Theme.
This years theme was Barnyard Stomp. Since we’re considered country bumpkins in our competing conference, we like to embrace our stereotypes.
Every year that we have participated in the parade, my brother has gone as the gorilla. He’s been just the plain ole’ gorilla. He’s been superhero gorilla. Let’s not forget King of the Jungle gorilla in previous years. This year, he was old woman from American Gothic gorilla because that makes total sense, right?
Luckily, we have family who live near the parade route, so we met in their driveway and donned costumes in the public space. Mostly because, if you aren’t embarrassing your family, then you aren’t doing your job.
Step One: Put skirt on gorilla.
Step Two: Add old woman hair, broach, and apron. This is the step where my brother, Jason, also loses his dignity.
Step Three: Hang picture frame from front of golf cart. (Step Three and a Half: forget to take picture)
Step Four: Hang American Gothic picture of the house behind the cart to get full American Gothic effect. (Step Four and a Half: forget to take picture)
That leads me to my costume. I always include my children in on our float, so we decided to dress as our favorite part of a farm. We went as bacon and eggs.
Driving golf carts comes in handy because we can sneak in among the long trailers, fire trucks and semis without much incident. Then, we spend about an hour sampling all of the candy and generally acting goofy while we wait for the long train of businesses, organizations and politicians to begin their descent on the nearly 4 mile long parade route.
We love running into our golfers while on the parade route. There’s easily over 5,000 people who line the streets of Altoona waiting to experience the parade that lasts for hours because our community is cool and knows how to have a good time. If you’re lucky, the gorilla will even get out of his golf cart and greet you.
My oldest son is in the marching band, so our whole family has a great time supporting our school and attending the football game.
My sister and I always sing along when the school song is played. She does it because she’s a good singer, I sing along because it embarrasses my children.
Mostly, we all have loads of fun and enjoy the fun atmosphere that being a part of a community that has deep roots in our family’s history represents.
How about you? Ever participate in your high school’s homecoming parade?