Love those ruby slippers, Dorothy

I just missed getting pinged by the peppermints raining from the hands of two Reno City Council members. Toni Harsh and Sharon Zadra weren’t randomly whipping hard candy at constituents during the Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade on Saturday. No, they were gracefully arcing handfuls of wrapped goodies toward families with small children.

Still, as one tot grubbed in the gutter for a Lemonhead, I wished I’d worn protective headgear. Only parental determination kept me there, camera in hand, waiting to see my daughter.

Then there she was, dressed like a Hershey’s kiss in the costume we made 20 minutes before the parade.

The day hadn’t begun well. Gloomy, raining in east Sparks. What a drag to have a kid in the parade.

I’ve been to almost every Hometowne Christmas event for the past 10 years. My kids have marched with the band or the Girl Scouts. One year, my boys put on Santa hats and rode with Sparks Tribune paper carriers.

Every year, it snows or sleets or gets cold enough to freeze a flautist before she hits C Street.

It’s a long, long parade. Every classic car in northern Nevada—graced with holiday ribbons, stuffed bears and candy canes—drives two miles per hour down Victorian Avenue. Every elected official waves from the back of a float or a horse-drawn carriage or patriotically festooned auto.

Excessively cute kids meander by in flocks, waving or dancing or singing or demonstrating martial arts or, in the case of the North Valleys High School Band this year, playing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” on their horns while flag finaglers twirl metal poles.

I had three days to prepare my daughter’s costume—the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. My friend, an able craftswoman, had whipped up a perfect Dorothy costume for her daughter, complete with ruby slippers. My daughter proposed donning Reynold’s Wrap—like that time in grade school when she dressed up as “a character from our state’s history” for Nevada Day. She wrapped herself in aluminum foil—her idea.

“I’m a chunk of silver,” she told quizzical teachers. But the foil pulled apart, and by the day’s end she looked less like a “chunk of silver” and more like gravel with pigtails.

I got an early start on this year’s costume. At 10 a.m. Saturday, I headed to Ace Hardware looking for—great idea from RN&R Arts Editor Miranda Jesch!—dryer vent wide enough for my daughter’s arms and legs. A friendly clerk named Neal led me to the silvery tubes, but alas, they were too narrow. I explained my dilemma. Neal didn’t know how to help.

“Isn’t the parade just a couple of hours away?” Neal asked thoughtfully.

Turns out that, if you’re careful, the integrity of a foil-wrapped adolescent can be maintained for more than an hour. I wrapped my kid’s legs in foil and duct tape, and she wore a shiny silver jacket. A friend made a cap shaped much like a Hershey’s kiss, but hey. If you put a foil-wrapped chocolate between Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion, well, a little context goes a long way.

The girls were excessively cute. I took gobs of photos of them and even one or two of Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman waving sardonically, as befitting a Mob lawyer-turned-city leader. In this business, you never know when you’ll find a use for such a photo. I like being prepared.

The picture turned out dark because I was shooting into—could it be?!—the sun. Yes, skies had cleared, and the air was warm. I didn’t need my stocking cap or protective head gear.

It was the best Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade ever.