I woke up with the sun shining, a happy blue sky and the forecast predicting a high of 85 degrees. That is when I knew it was parade day. Normally, the weather does not turn out for the annual Labor Day Parade in downtown Bloomington. It is either raining or too hot to function, but this weather was just right. Bright-eyed and uniforms fitted, the ISU Cheerleading team met at 8:30 a.m. that Monday. By the time we got downtown and parked it was before 9 a.m. and the parade started at 10 a.m. That gave everyone an hour to stretch, warm up all stunts and practice band chants. Every year, the ISU Cheerleaders, Redline Express and Big Red Marching Machine lead the parade with the President following. This year was a little bit different. Due to bus troubles, the band did not arrive to the parade until 10:30 a.m. Needless to say, we cheerleaders were a little upset, but we stuck it out for the band and took on our new location, which was about a fourth of the way in.
Just like any parade, the kids went nuts for candy. They grabbed whatever they could and shoved that candy in their mouths as fast as possible. While walking, it is funny to see those couple of kids who are chewing so fast on one piece to get to another candy choice. It always surprises me that when we walk by, those kids do not put their hands out for candy, but rather for high fives. The kids go crazy for us. The feeling was like the Sheridan Parade but on a much grander scale. It just makes me so happy to see these kids cheering and supporting us. I never think anyone notices us until I see the reactions on days like this. ISU alums and citizens of Bloomington-Normal are constantly cheering as well. It is always good to see appreciation, and this parade was full of it. One of the best parts about the parade is getting to throw up stunts for the fans. It never fails that no matter how basic the stunt is, everyone gasps and I cannot help but smile.
Truly, it is the little things that matter most. A stunt that seems so simple and basic to me is extreme and amazing to a child. It is sad having the parade flash by in the hour I walked, knowing I have to wait until homecoming for another one. No matter the length, these are walks I never want to end.