This coming week I’ll be doing a lot of baking for the Super Bowl. No, I am not a football fan. The only time I follow is when the AFC and NFC Championship games determine who goes to the Super Bowl. The president of my singles’ club holds a Super Bowl game party at his house; he has me make three customized cakes. One large sheet cake decorated to look like a football field. The other two cakes are cheesecakes, one representing each team. I always have to know which teams are involved and what colors they wear, since the representative cakes are dyed in the teams’ colors. Usually I frost the football field cake with green icing. But because this Super Bowl is the 40th, I am using red icing. The symbol of the 40th anniversary are rubies, which are red.
Monday the 30th marks the 170th anniversary of the death of patriot Betsy Ross, who made our country’s first flag. I learned her story and visited her Philadelphia landmark house in a third-grade field trip. Her story inspired me to take up sewing.
To end this past year, I was in a mini-parade as part of First Night in Mt. Holly, New Jersey. I had done it two times previous, both as “Underdog.” I was going to do a different costume this time, but the people in charge requested Underdog again since they gear the celebration towards the coming year’s sign of the Chinese Zodiac. This time it was ‘Year of the Dog!’
I was unable to be in the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on New Year’s Day since it was on a Sunday; I had to be at church.
I found a fabric-and-notion store in Philadelphia where I’ll be able to get colors and sizes of sequins I used to be able to get from one of the women in my church’s choir; she works in a factory that makes the Mummers’ costumes. A particular sequin color is vital to my finishing two costumes that I had put on hold because I ran out of that color; a larger size of another color is needed for a series of uniform motifs on another costume. Since I have no more parades until March, I spend most of my spare time resuming work on unfinished costumes but also starting on a new one that I want to wear on Memorial Day in Falls Church, Virginia’s parade.
On the last day of 2005 I participated in a mini parade that was part of the annual “First Night” celebration held in Mt. Holly, New Jersey. The organizers gear their theme toward the upcoming symbol of the Chinese Zodiac. According to that, 2006 is the Year of the Dog; I was asked to do Underdog for the above-mentioned procession.
The end of every year always depresses me; it means that we have one less year to live, and may have committed many sins in the past year. Anyone who has read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will recall Scrooge observing, in the beginning, “What’s Christmas but a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour holier! How much have you offended God and humankind this past year, even if unintentionally? How much time do you have left before you are commended to either heaven or hell?
On New Year’s Day, Philadelphia always holds its renowned but lengthy Mummers Parade. I could not be in it this time since New Year’s was on Sunday, and I had to go to church.
I had created the Snowflake Star Fairy this past year and have already come up with an idea and name for a sister character, dressed in yellow. I mentioned before how sometimes I’ve made a white costume, artistically decorated, and then followed up with an identically styled yellow costume more ostentatiously decorated than the white one. The parallel comes to me about the Cathedral of Chartres in France. Anyone who has studied world history or Gothic architecture knows that the two tall towers at the front entrance were completed a couple of centuries apart. One tower is simply styled; the other is much flashier.
I have plans this year for several costumes, one of which I meant to make in time for last year’s Christmas Parades but did not have the money to buy the raw materials. I am deeply concerned about how and where I’m to get the money I need for the supplies. Making a costume is a major investment on my part in terms of money, time, and raw materials since every costume has to be an outstanding work of art.
I am hoping this year, perhaps at Halloween, to do something big with Dracula. But the emphasis would be on the real Dracula, aka Vlad the Impaler; he was born in 1431, which makes this year his 575th birthday! I have not done a really big Dracula presentation since 1997, and that was in Los Angeles in the presences of the historians and Dracula experts Dr. Radu Florescu and the late Professor Raymond McNally.
This year I was in 7 Halloween parades, one of which, Mays Landing, NJ, was a first time for me. On Halloween itself I was in the second largest Halloween parade in the country: Toms River, NJ.
I used three different costumes in these parades and won one trophy for each. Probably the most ambitious of the costumes was a one-shouldered yellow gown, in the ancient Greek style, which I used at Cape May, Ventnor, and Williamstown, NJ. I planned so much lavish sequin and jewel decoration for it. I didn’t get all the decorations finished before I had to use the garment. But to the judges, the decorating seemed complete enough.
At Cape May Court House, NJ, I was asked by the people in charge to do Spectrum the Ghost King, who I also did at Toms River. At Cape May Court House I always do a dance number in addition to being in the parade. When it came time for judging, I was the only entrant in the highest age group.
For the Thanksgiving-Christmas in November and December, I was in thirteen holiday parades. For November parades I did Underdog in conjunction with Thanksgiving, since Underdog had been made partly a Thanksgiving trademark by Macy’s as one of the giant balloons 40 years ago.
For four parades in December, I introduced a new character: Snowflake Star Fairy. Years earlier I baked a star-shaped cake for Christmas bake sale. I drew a snowflake on top in icing, but since the star had five sides, the snowflake also had to have five sides, not six! I was thinking of a new character for Christmas parades when I remembered having made that cake and thus figured out that the costume should be white cloth with snowflake motifs, but the snowflakes would be five sided. At first I was going to call the character the Christmas Fairy, but that name was already established and exactly how she dressed was not inscribed in stone. Since the idea was that this fairy would conjure snowfalls of star-shaped flakes, the name became more clarified: Snowflake Star.
I could not start working on the costume until I had finished with the yellow Grecian gown previously mentioned. I thought of lavish ornamentation, but installing the ornaments was time consuming. Alas, I could not change my theme for three of the Christmas parades I meant to use it for, because I had to send an application ahead of time, which indicated my topic. The result was that by Cape May, many motifs were unfinished with sheets of paper still attached. I was sure I would lose judging points that way: I wound up wearing white maxi-cape, which concealed most of the gown. I had a week before two other parades during which time I completed enough of the decorations so that I wore a shorter cape, but not the one meant to go with the gown. It was gratifying that I won trophies for each of the parades in which I was bound by contract to do Snowflake Star Fairy; As of this writing, I am still working on this costume and the yellow gown; they will be finished as I intend them to e in plenty of time for 2006 appearances.
One of my Christmas presents was white cloth and notions to make another one-shouldered Grecian gown like the yellow, but not as ostentatiously decorated. There have been a few cases of my making a white costume and then a yellow one, identically styled, but more lavishly decorated than the white.
A few days before Christmas, it was stated on TV that a long expected movie, Superman Returns, is scheduled to debut in June 2006. For that reason, I feel obliged to do Supergirl again, but must make myself a new dress and shorts.