Thursday, December 2, 2010

Treasure Hunt

The Red River Sirens will be in the Clarksville Christmas Parade. We’ll be easy to spot – we’ll be the really cool looking ladies in the awesome black hoodies with the (NEW!) team logo on the front (in silver!), waving from our gorgeous and creative illuminated float and walking alongside it handing out candy.

What was NOT easy was finding the parade information for this year. Several weeks ago, I searched for it, because we needed an entry form and the parade theme for this year. Yes, they are themed – and not just “Christmas.” It seemed simple enough – search on “Clarksville Christmas Parade,” right? Any monkey could do it. Yeah, right….

The search on the keywords “Clarksville TN Christmas Parade” pulled up the entry forms for the 48th, 49th and 50th annual parades, which was nice, but this year’s is the 51st. There were stories of past parades and lists of winners. A visit to the City of Clarksville website (a co-sponsor) yielded nothing. The first time I searched, I somehow found it through an ad for the Downtown Association, which showed the date for the parade (which passes through downtown) and had a link to the entry form. Voila! Success! The form was retrieved and saved to the desktop of my lhome computer. Now I know how it felt to find one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets.

In the course of things and upon my return to the ‘Ville from Thanksgiving visiting in the land of the Pilgrims, I picked up the entry check and a printed version of the form from a teammate (thanks, Heartless!), and proceeded to fill it out so it could be submitted to the Parks and Recreation Department. While filling in the info by hand at my desk at work (damned non-editable PDF files!), of course I make a mistake, used the correction tape and made a mess of that, and decided to print off a new form when no bosses were harassing me. That led to the second ridiculous search for the form, because I had messed up the printed one someone else found, and the PDF was at home.

I searched on “Clarksville Jaycees” (the other co-sponsor) which yielded listings of the organization in several directories and info about the Easter Egg Hunt (in 2008). Apparently hiding things is a special talent of this particular organization. The link titled “Christmas Parade Entry Form and Rules” (eureka!) near the top of the search results was, alas, for the 49th Annual Parade. You know, the one in 2008. And there was a list of the 2009 parade winners. It was all the more frustrating because I had already done this once. The form was right there on the desktop of my computer at home. But unless I could get Moose to unlatch his cage, fire up the computer and email it to me, it was of no use. And I didn’t have time in a 60 minute lunch hour to race across town (8 minutes each way in easy traffic), get the file, take it back to work to print it, (no ink in home printer) fill it out, and deliver it.

I have always had great research skills, but this was really putting them to the test. The search continued, using every combination of relevant keywords I could think of, including the name of the organization where I thought I saw the ad for the parade on the first go-round, and the most obvious – “Clarksville TN 51st Annual Christmas Parade,” which yielded a story in daily newspaper from December 1, which said, in its entirety, “There’s a parade Saturday. It’s downtown.” I finally found the blasted form through an online news source buried in an article about “Downtown for the Holidays.”

Man, it’s like this is the “Top Secret” themed parade, and it will be a surprise if there are any floats besides ours in it. I think the team deserves a prize just for the ridiculous level of nonsense it took to learn anything about it. In any event, it got done, and on time. The form turned in was clean and neat, with a separate sheet attached that describes the awesomeness of our “Tribute to Clarksville” themed float. Go to the parade if you want to see it. It’s Saturday, December 4 at 5:00. Wave to us.

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