Making Light Of It | Page 6 | Newberry

Making Light Of It

There are people who complain that Uncle Blogsy is a discouraging old soul. “You’re always telling us that what we bring you is trash!” they have complained.

“Never,” I reply. “I just tell you that the trash you bring is trash.” (I hope I am always open to constructive criticism. I’ve just never heard any.)

My desire is to have the impact of the average sermon, in which you immediately realize what your sister-in-law always gets wrong. I certainly don’t want you to construe my remarks as discouraging you from dropping off donations.

Now, the thing I want to do today is to discourage you from dropping off donations. Yeah, I know, but it’s a special occasion. Tomorrow is the annual Festival of Lights Parade, and from at least noon onward, a lot of the streets around the Newberry are going to be completely blocked off as floats are constructed. I think the police will understand if you just say “I have to get these Reader’s Digest Condensed Books to Uncle Blogsy!” but why take chances?

There was a time (when some of Uncle Blogsy’s hair was still red) that this was a lesser problem. The Festival of Lights Parade was not much more than four blocks long: a couple of marching bands, six floats, and one or two beauty queens out freezing their batons. But corporate sponsorship suddenly appeared, and now there are balloons and singing groups and who knows what-all.

As Minnie Pearl once said, when explaining she was shocked about all the kissing goimg on behind the High School, “I don’t want to STOP it! I want to get IN on it!” The Book Fair’s been around longer than the Festival of Lights Parade: where are my corporate sponsors?

Oh, we had our shot at it. The Newberry begged for years to be part of the Festival of Lights. “You’re, um, not on Michigan Avenue,” the authorities kept telling us. We strung lights around our front door and wound garland around our columns inside, but the parade passed us by.

Mind you, one of the big dynamos behind the parade is Disney, and I can’t see the Book Fair being of much interest to them, in spite of the book dealers who call it a Mickey Mouse affair. A parade is more a Disney event, and, anyhow, the Book Fair takes place in Chicago in late July, when NOBODY should be required to make an appearance dressed as one of the Seven dwarves. (Persons who just connected Uncle Blogsy with Dopey or Grumpy in their minds are hereby stricken from my Christmas card list. Consider yourself chastened.)

Book fairs are not really parade material, either. Those singers belting out show tunes would be shushed: it’s a library. (For some years there was a No Bongo rule in the Reading Room; I assume it’s still in force.) An elephant couldn’t get up the stairs without knocking over the Umanitas statue, a baton twirler would be trampled by parents heading in to buy children’s books, and that poor marching band would find that a third of the staff has musical training. “Start over!” they’d be told. “You don’t slur the notes in Achy Breaky Heart!”

No, I don’t suppose anyone will come along and sponsor a Festival of Books Parade or any such. I’ll just have to give up that goal of being Grand Marshall. (It’s not the title I want. I dream about riding on a float tossing books at the crowd. I mean TO the crowd, TO the crowd. Never mind why that stack of unabridged dictionaries is sitting there.)

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