This morning we woke up bright and early for the Lions International Parade, which is quite the production. This year it was even more so, as it is the hundredth anniversary of Lionism. The parade lasts for close to four hours, and this year evidently included some 25,000 participants. (Yeah, crazy, right?!?) Many delegations bring bands, or hire bands to march with them, as well as dressing in traditional clothing that represents their state or country. It is really cool to walk around the parade staging area and see Indian women in saris, the Japanese in their special Lions jackets, and all sorts of other cultures. People are really friendly too, especially if they can identify you as a fellow Lion (or, like the band, associated with the Lions). While we were warming up, our pictures were taken by many people passing by.
The parade is, of course, also one of the most important things that the band does at the International Convention. We march with the Pennsylvania delegation, representing our state and playing - what else? - the Pennsylvania Polka. It is probably the most visible "official" thing that we do. There are also awards, so if the band does well, we increase the prestige of PA (and help out the Lions band coffers).
Today's parade went really well. Usually we are somewhere past the first hundred groups (there are usually something like 200) - not this year, this year, we were number 22! This did not put us anywhere near the start of the parade, however - it was nearly an hour before out band made it out of the staging area. Some of the international delegations - India, Japan, the Republic of Korea - appeared to span 3-4 city blocks! Again, QUITE the production! Being at the front (relatively speaking, anyway), meant that we were finished with the parade and waiting for our buses to pick us up by 11am - ready for a fun day at Navy Pier.