If you ever want to enjoy our state highways with very few people on it I would suggest the day after Thanksgiving at 5:30 AM. NO Traffic! After getting up, at 5:00 AM, leaving at 5:30 and making a few wrong turns in downtown Seattle we arrived at the Convention Center. Moose was already getting people together and checking off names. Apparently, there was some type of communication error, and Moose did not make the drivers list. With typical Moose fashion he made the best of it and organized the drivers before heading back to bed. In years past it rained but thankfully it was just cloudy. This was a nice bonus as the floats are very cold for the drivers. They are basically cold air balloons on golf carts. They have several car battery fans that suck air from outside to inflate the balloon. (**Pro drivers Tip** you can turn the fans so that they donâ€™t blow directly at you. It does help.)
I did see on the list that Mark got one of the worst floats. I will not name it since you may get it next year. Thanks Mark for taking one for the team. While getting ready I tried to give a little advice to the new drivers. This is what Tamers do best . Chat and trade stories. Time for me to get my poinsettia inflated. It can be somewhat challenging to get a 6â€™2 260 pound man through a zipper in the side of an uninflated float but it can be done. Just to make things a little harder the float was designed so that it has two of its four fans mounted directly where the driver gets into the float. Laying on my side climbing in the float is about the time that my cell phone started to ring. I managed to lean over enough to pull my phone out. It seems that one of the tamers mistakenly set his alarm clock incorrectly and overslept. Thankfully we had enough drivers, so I told him not to worry about it. Then it was back to getting the float ready. Then some more standing around and waiting until it was time to get to the staging area.
After a while, the call went out to man the floats. I got in mine turned the key and the float started moving forward on its own. Apparently when they put the float together they wrapped the plastic over the gas pedal. A little work from the Macys team and we were back to normal. Finally we were on our way to the staging area. In every group there is a rig that always breaks down or has issues. I was near the back but I guess that Mark had driven over some leaves and had clogged the fan intakes. DOG DOWN! Mark having troubleshot a few issues in his time made some suggestions to the Macys crew but they were having nothing of it. Of course they did eventually figure out the issue was exactly what Mark had thought. (**Pro Tip** Listen to Mark) Ok all fixed and back on the trail. It is now that you get to fully open up these bad boy floats. At some point we made a left turn. I am not sure what street it was as I canâ€™t see much. It was about this time I noticed that the turning arc of the rubber ducky was going to be very close to a police officer and his motorcycle. With no horn or radio communication, there was not much I could do but watch. The duck did in fact make side contact with both the police officer and his bike. The good news is that it was not a direct hit and there was no damage. (**Pro Drivers tip** Make squared turns after passing anything you donâ€™t want to run into.) It was about that time when I heard and felt a large bang as the left rear drove over something. The good news is that the Macyâ€™s float design team had already thought of a safety feature. You see the air intake starts to suck in exhaust when this happens so that you know right away what has broken. No need to stop I knew just what had happened. At the staging area the Macys crew was nice enough to fix my exhaust with bailing wire.
While waiting the Edmonds Woodway Warrior marching band showed up. While playing in place a female police officer was turning her car around just uphill from the band. She had about half of her upper body out the window and shouted I hope you guys kick those cougars ass!!! Then in perfect style she backed over the curb. In case you donâ€™t follow the Edmonds Woodway band has a big W on there uniforms and purple is one of their colors. You see they kind of look like the Washington Huskies. This is one of those times where I wish I had a camera rolling. At about this time my float marshall showed up. He was a nice guy and I could tell he was going to be an improvement from last year. Think of a marshall as a spotter. They are the eyes and ears of the driver. Last year my spotter kept walking on the side of the float where I could not see her. As a result I basically did not have one. This year was great. He stayed in front where I could see him. I did not even use the radio as there was no need. That and Emily had my GMRS radio and she was walking the route with the Marshall.
After the parade we once again staged. It is now that our marshalls leave us. Some tamers deflated as the most difficult driving is the too and from the convention center. Once again the rubber duck had some issues with the turns. This time it was only the curb to the convention center. All in all a great run. Thanks to all the Tamers who donated thier morning, $25s in parking costs and the $100 we get for driving, to the Tamers. This is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year .
Timber Tamer VP