You have probably heard Children’s Holiday Parade referred to as “The Miracle on Commerce Street.” Although it may sound corny, I can tell you – after 25 years as a backstage eyewitness – miracles DO come true, and this parade really is one. In fact, more than one. Lots of big and little ones.
It was my great joy to serve as its director for that first amazing year. I have more memories of that first year than perhaps any other because it was so hard. My extraordinary partner in public relations at The Adolphus, David Davis, and I had loads of naïve creativity and ambition for the event.
All we knew was The Adolphus and Children’s Medical Center were wonderful Dallas institutions celebrating their 75th anniversaries, and we had to make this event very good. We HAD to protect the reputations of those two great treasures.
We didn’t sleep at all the night before that first parade. The work seemed endless. I was bone tired but kept going and going, David at my side. My desk phone never stopped ringing with problem after problem (by the way, we didn’t have cell phones back then!).
Then the big day dawned, chilly and beautiful, like most of the 24 parades that have followed. I remember noise. People came. Lots of them. They were on the curbs in blankets, drinking hot chocolate and laughing. A vivid picture in my mind is of strollers by the thousands. Families huddled together in anticipation.
I had put down a crowd estimate of 35,000 on that first parade permit. Lo and behold, the police said 75,000 came. Of course, now more than 350,000 people attend every year.
Band buses were coming in waves of yellow and we hadn’t arranged anywhere for them to park. It was sheer bedlam. Strollers, horses, balloons, bands, drill teams – they were everywhere. What in the world had we done?? I was very scared and very excited. This was BIG. It felt like a big, loud, beautiful MESS.
Yet, suddenly, it was 10 a.m. and out of the chaos, came the miracle. It worked. We got our very first parade down Commerce Street and lots and lots of people clapped and cheered and showed they liked it – a lot.
I cried out of absolute wonder and joy. I knew this was WAY bigger than little me and that something good was going to come of this. It was, indeed, a supernatural happening that has endured because… after all… miracles have a way of doing that.
If you’re a faithful parade-goer, we thank you! And, if you aren’t one (yet), we invite you to join the fun on Saturday. For more details you can visit www.Childrens.com/Parade.