Thursday, October 4, 2012

Everybody Loves a Parade

It's that time of year again. The time when I try to recruit folks to volunteer at the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade. I am particularly excited this year because I was invited to make application as a balloon captain. I'd love to be captain of a ballon with lots of my friends and family as balloon handlers.

If you want to join Dave and I in our 6th year with the parade click here to apply. Be sure to choose the team "Perkis People" so that we will be assigned together. BTW, the volunteers pulling the Turkey in the picture at the top of the application page is our group! :)

So what does being a balloon handler mean? What are the job requirements?

#1) Be able to walk the 1.8 mile parade route


#2) Be able to hold a rope

#3) Be able to smile, wave (not with the rope holding hand obviously) and say "Happy Thanksgiving" about a thousand times. Ok slight exaggeration... maybe


#4 Be willing to wear a
"one size does not fit all" jumpsuit
and a goofy hat. Note the many times over
rolled up cuffs and sleeves!


#5 Make people smile!
Ok the kid on the right probably
wanted to be home sleeping 
but the rest of his family was into it.

Really it doesn't take much more than that. There are some circumstantial issues though. If you are responsible for cooking the turkey for your family OR must travel a distance to eat the turkey you probably do not want to volunteer.

Volunteers must be at the start hotel (usually the Crowne Plaza around 18th and Market) at 6:00 a.m. Coffee, juice and breakfast finger foods are provided. Once the group has assembled everyone moves down to the street to assist with balloon inflation if needed and recieve last minute instructions.

This part of the day involves a lot of
standing or sitting around and waiting.


There is a lot of activity down on the street and if you are lucky you can get your photo taken withe a celebrity or two.


Once the parade starts you simply keep smling and keep moving until the end. Well, sort of anyway. The parade stops for commercials. What you see on TV is the whole parade. So during stoppage time balloon handlers throw candy to the crowd and - if time and space permit - spin the balloon. This is a real crowd pleaser.


One of my favorite things during  stoppage is to let a child hold the end of my rope. Their eyes bug out and they break into a huge smile. It's awesome.

Once the balloon passes the grandstands in front of the Art Museum (and the TV cameras) the handlers carry the balloon to the deflation area and help with that. Deflation often involves flopping on the balloon until all the air is out.

After that, buses take you back to another hotel - usually the Sheraton - wear you return your costume and take a boxed lunch which you can eat there or carry out with you.

Your finish time for the day can be as early as 10 AM or as late as 1 PM hence the warning about cooking and travel. It all depends on where in the parade your balloon is. It's a long day but sooooo much fun! The smiles on the kids faces - and the adults too for that matter - is awesome.

So if you are interested we'd love to work with you. Click here to apply and be sure to choose the team Perkis People. Let me know if you sign up!

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