Sunday, January 25, 2009

Americans On Parade

The UFO wasn't the only odd sighting at the inauguration. Dave Barry was also there, in the parade as part of a unique unit.

So when a group I belong to called the World Famous Lawn Rangers of Amazing Arcola was selected to march at Barack Obama's inauguration, our reaction, as Americans, was: ``The organizers of this parade must be smoking crack.'' I say this because we are not a traditional marching unit. We are an extremely random group of middle-age guys who carry brooms and push specially decorated show lawn mowers, which we use to perform synchronized broom-and-lawn mower maneuvers that always get a big crowd reaction (usually: ``Huh?''). As you can imagine these performances require intense mental preparation, by which I mean beer.

How did this happen?

In 2003, when they marched in the St. Patrick's Day parade in Chicago, they encountered Barack Obama, then running for the U.S. Senate. Obama picked up a toilet plunger -- in addition to brooms, senior Rangers carry plungers, symbolizing authority -- and brandished it over his head. A photograph was taken of this moment, although at the time nobody realized it was historic.

When Obama was elected president, Monahan remembered the photo, and decided to apply for the Rangers to march in the inaugural parade. Incredibly, we were accepted; as you read these words, the person responsible for that decision is probably en route to Guantánamo. But the point is that on Inauguration Day, the World Famous (and Extremely Cold) Lawn Rangers pushed their show mowers up Pennsylvania Avenue and passed in review before President and Mrs. Obama.