By Ken Stern 

From the editor - La Conner loved this parade

 

September 6, 2023



Saturday saw the residents of La Conner at their best, gathering for what we all love, a parade. It was made better in that it was organized by us, for us. On this day author Tom Robbins was heralded as a king. The world-famous writer has been living quietly among us for decades. Residents who have known him for a long time and those who have never met him gathered to celebrate, as did those – primarily women – who came from as far away as Ireland, upstate New York, California and everywhere in between, including Indiana and Missouri.

Robbins’ readers know he advocates believing in magic and nourishing our imaginations and getting in harmony with nature by looking for beauty and poetry in everything in life. As he told high school graduates in 1974, ignore the system, the status quo, “walk away from it. Turn your backs on it, laugh at it. Don’t be outraged, be outrageous!”

La Connerites and out-of-town fans took Robbins up on his creed Saturday, dressing up as cowgirls, of course, and carrying and wearing pyramids on their heads, but also parading down First Street as beets, mushrooms, perfume bottles and wearing frog pajamas. There was a Santa Claus, too, for good measure.

We love our costumes. Some of us did not recognize each other, though. Thank you, Gina McCarthy, for the wigs and a whole lot more, for your initiative, inspiration and organizing energy.

Thank you Susan Macek, Jean Markert. Mary Wohleb and other cowgirls whose props did not give them away.

There were folks wearing and folks waving favorite Robbins quotations, funny and profound and not normal.

Thank you to the organizers of the Spam carving contest and its judges and the people who organized and prepared the contest. Thanks to the judges of the parade costume contest.

Thanks to the intrepid Spam carving contestants There were contest carver sponsors, too, donating funds to the future middle school age targeted library program, proposed for challenging and encouraging our kids creativity.

Thanks to the cowgirls, the few cowboys, the beets and beet-like participants, the frog pajama wearers, the mushrooms and all the other characters whom Robbins’ words written decades ago inspired them to dress up as, perhaps, their true selves..

Thanks to members of the fire department, who closed off streets and drove the trucks and chaperoned Tom and Alexa Robbins, leading the parade.

Thanks to Christine Hill and Marilynn Olson for waving Robbins’ 1974 commencement address up for everyone to see and read.

This was a day to promote thinking outside the box. It was a chance to champion the unthinkable and praise those who make the impossible possible. It was about inspiration leading to joy. It was about bringing to life and sharing in real time in one very real place the imagination, creativity and hope of one writer.

It was about yet another La Conner parade, original and unique, stemming from the creativity Robbins inspired and the efforts of specific people in our little town.

The celebration is a testimony to the love that specific people, Meg Holgate and Gina McCarthy, have for Tom and Alexa Robbins. It speaks to the power of literature and the importance of true words. True words are not the common clay of popularizing lies that any momentarily prominent media figure airs, but ideas that speak to the possibilities of a more hopeful future for us as individuals and all of us as a society.

Tom Robbins somehow figured out and conveyed in his writing the optimism to go on despite the odds that reality presents. The people he touched so deeply thanked him and thank him for his inspiring bon mots.

 

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