Sunday, July 11, 2010

Parade On

Last week, I coaxed Kurt to be in the River Falls parade with me. I was co-coordinator for the BRIDGE for Youth with Disabilities float, with duties to welcome any parents and special needs youth and adults who showed up, hand out t-shirts and organize the group to ride the float or walk.

Kurt wasn't too keen on the idea. "How about you go and I'll stay home?"

I smiled. I'm doing this for him, and he's just not that into it.

I continued coaxing each evening. "You'll see your friends. There'll be fire trucks and tractors."

On Friday, when he got home from Community Homestead, he seemed ready, if not exactly eager.

We approached our float and found the driver. "Hi Kurt," the man said. He turned to me, "I'm Tom. I know Kurt well. My students are in the work program with him."

The BRIDGE day program takes Kurt and his peers to volunteer jobs in the community. I knew they work closely with the special education students at Hudson High School and I had heard of Tom, but hadn't met him before.

The two continued to talk and high fived, then Kurt pointed at the front end loader parked behind us, apparently the next unit in line.

"That's what you'll be riding in," Tom said to Kurt.

I knew he was joking. Since his delivery was straight-faced, and because Kurt loves construction equipment, I thought he might take Tom seriously. However, I didn't address it because people started arriving.

A half an hour passed while we greeted the pairs of chaperones and special needs adults/youth. We waited in the shade of the nearby gas station until it was time to take our places. A couple of people in wheel chairs would be pushed by their caregivers and I was to walk alongside the float with another woman to hand out bags containing BRIDGE info. The rest of the crew would ride and throw candy.

I turned to Kurt. "Pick a spot to sit."

His back stiffened and he stood up straighter. "I'm not riding on the float."

"Well, you need to either ride on the float or walk."

"I'm riding on that," Kurt made a large sweep of his arm and pointed at the front loader.

Oh great - just as I had suspected. "That isn't part of our group. You need to get on the float."

Kurt crossed his arms in defiance and stood his ground.

"Look," I said. "You need to get up on that float. You don't get to ride on the front loader. He was making a joke."

Kurt blinked and climbed on. Everyone got settled. We crawled along behind another float and at the corner, we were directed onto Main Street behind a fire truck.

Busy handing out bags, the time seemed to go fast. When I took a moment to look at Kurt, he was smiling and waving. His hand held the front of the trailer. I imagine, he was pretending the front had a push blade and he was driving.

See for yourself in the photo below:

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Kurt at 19