The last parade that I saw was in 2007 when we took our family over to Perth to visit the Harveys. On the appointed day, we drove into Perth’s central business district for the 2007 Christmas Pageant. This is a huge event on the Perth calendar, and over 300,000 people crowded along the parade’s route.

I was pregnant with Calista and pushed through the crowds with Brioni in a stroller with Aisha riding on the attachment behind her. Renιe and Craig had newborn Tirzah in a pram and two other children on foot. We found a place next to a bank where we could shelter from the chilly wind and tried to help the younger kids see over the heads of those in front of them.

(Amazingly, my mother managed to find us in the press of people. I think she started at one end of the route and slowly made her way along until she spotted our motley crew. But she tried to make it sound effortless, none-the-less. Ha! I’ve got you figured, Mother!)

So when I planned to take our kids to see the local equivalent — the Cane Festival Parade — I planned ahead. Last night, David drove into Beenleigh’s central business district and strategically parked the truck at a good vantage point along the route. I wanted to be sure that our kids would see the parade without us having to hoist them onto our shoulders. (We don’t actually have enough shoulders to go around any more!)

Today started out rainy and cold. I kept wondering if we would actually get to the parade. Because no one wants to be out in the rain with children, least of all — me! But the drizzling stopped before it was time to leave.

About half an hour before the parade was due to start, we drove as close to the area as we could get. Police were cordoning off the streets, and so we parked and walked to the truck.

The crowds were underwhelming.

There were small groups of people milling at the intersections, and others had clearly chosen their places based on the seating or shade available. I had overestimated the excitement of the local populace to this event!

Nevertheless, we climbed up into the top of the truck to wait for the excitement to begin. Although the vantage point wasn’t necessary, it was a bit of extra fun for the afternoon!

Calista, 2yo, Aisha, 5yo, Brioni, 3yo, + Lauren, May 2010
This is what we looked like from the road — from the perspective of those in the parade.

Delaney, 5 months old, May 2010
Dell was with us, but she was downstairs sleeping for most of the parade. (I always like to include a picture of Delaney because otherwise she may feel that she missed out on all our exciting outings! "Yes, you were there, honey, you were just too young to remember.")

Lauren, Brioni, 3yo, Aisha, 5yo, + Calista, 2yo, May 2010
The girls weren't actually sitting on the roof, they were standing inside the truck, so it was very safe.

Yeah. Look at those crowds. (I know there was one couple who should appear in the far left of the photo above, but maybe they hadn’t arrived yet.)

Now I know that I wasn’t expecting to be battling a crowd of 300,000 like we did in Perth. In fact, I had read that about 3000 people attend. But what do 3000 people look like? A lot, I’m sure. Except when they’re spread out over the 1.6 km length of the route. (Okay, maybe there were only about 300 people watching. Tops.)

The parade floats were a mix of local businesses and community groups. Some of the costumes were imaginative, but they weren’t glossy. That’s okay. We’re a little hub on the outskirts of a big city, and we’re celebrating sugar cane, people. It’s a dying industry as the land is carved up into hideous housing developments, especially this close to Brisbane.

Cane Festival Parade, Beenleigh, May 2010
It wouldn't be the CANE Festival Parade without a CANE harvester!

Cane Festival Parade, Beenleigh, May 2010
Or a vintage tractor.

Brioni, 3yo, Calista, 2yo, Aisha, 5yo, + Lauren, May 2010
Although it wasn't spectacular, the girls liked seeing the procession, especially the marching bands!

Cane Festival Parade, Beenleigh, May 2010

Cane Festival Parade, Beenleigh, May 2010
Beenleigh Guides.

Cane Festival Parade, Beenleigh, May 2010

Cane Festival Parade, Beenleigh, May 2010

Cane Festival Parade, Beenleigh, May 2010
A modified shopping trolley!

Cane Festival Parade, Beenleigh, May 2010
The Cane Festival always has a fundraising aspect where young adults compete for the title of Cane Ambassador by collecting money for a specific cause. This young lady was one of the entrants in the charity quest and was sponsored by the volunteer marine rescue crew. Me, if I was doing this, I'd try to get sponsored by a Ferrari dealership. Or Bentley. (I'm easy.)

Cane Festival Parade, Beenleigh, May 2010

Cane Festival Parade, Beenleigh, May 2010

Despite the low numbers (perhaps the crowds were in another section of town?), the procession lasted about an hour. After we arrived home, it started raining again, so once again we had perfect weather for our outing!