While the official arrival wasn’t til 10 on Saturday, January 31, the parking lot adjoining the treasured Meadows Foundation neighborhood was busting with SUV’s carrying red wagons. The force fueling this drive was Community Partners of Dallas and their effort to set a new world record for the biggest red wagon parade — A Wagon Holds Promise. They had decided that it would be the closer for their 25th anniversary year.
But to break the previous record set in 2003 by the St George Lions Club of St. George, Utah, CPD needed to rally 148 wagons. But they were bucking a true challenge. For instance, the time of the year was a problem. The end of January is a notorious heartbreaker for outdoor events.
Still CPD President/CEO Paige McDaniel and her sidekick Development Director Joanna Clarke had a reputation for charming and giggling their way with Ma Nature in the past. But this would be a true test of sisterhood. In the days leading up to the Saturday, it looked bleak. Rain and cold rain at that were on forecast for Saturday.
As the hours ticked away, the forecast turned in the CPD favor. The cold, wet stuff would hold off until afternoon.
As adults, kids and pooches arrived, they were bundled up for the chill. Nearby Ruthie’s Rolling Café was providing hot chocolate with peppermint.
In an adjacent driveway were rows of rental red wagons ready to be briefly adopted rolling through the record books.
Crystal Gober and Stacie Pearlman donned their Katy Perry look-alike outfits and matching decked out wagons. Were they big CPD supporters? No, but a friend was and they were getting involved.
Melna Bourland and her nephew Jackson Lewis were standing by their covered red wagon complete with two stick horses and a fishing pole dangling a star overhead. Made sense. The wagon’s theme was “Hitch Your Wagon to a Star”! Clever. Whose idea was it? Melna admitted that the theme and creation of the result of her talented mom, Margaret Tyrrell. Melna proudly added, “She was always like that.”
What inspired Margaret to create the eye-catching wagon? Without hesitation she said, “That’s what CPD is about!”
On the sidelines taking in the hundreds of wagons, kids, adults and pooches was the Guinness World Record adjudicator Philip Robertson in his official Guinness attire. Having arrived from his home in New York City that had been swamped by a winter storm, the Brit felt right at home. His wife was a Dallasite…a Highland Park grad.
Just a moment of two after high noon, the sun peeked out shining on Paige and Philip standing in the bed of a red pick-up truck to kick off the parade. Leading the parade was Greg Nieberding driving a red hot Park Place Mercedes Benz with Haven Hinds waving atop the back seat. She had earned the privilege by raising the most money in CPD’s “Change Is Good” program.
Under a red-and-white balloon arch, the parade commenced with people and dogs at the nearby dog park watching. Some of the wagons were brand, spanking new. Some were vintage with wheels that creaked along. Some had cute kids bundled up.
Despite the chill, the parade continued around the block. One person admitted, “This cold isn’t so bad if it helps the CPD kids.”
In orderly fashion, the parade neatly concluded perfectly near the CPD headquarters. On the left were bounce houses. On the right was the gathering place for the rental wagons that will be added to the 2015 CPD Christmas toy effort.
As DJ Bill Cody played tunes that were definitely not Tony Bennett, kids danced to the music with dance moves that amazed the older folks.
Behind the scenes, Philip was alone officially tabulating the results. He was so detailed, it made one wonder why Guinness didn’t officiate presidential elections.
It was then time to announce the results. As Paige with fingers crossed and the Dallas theme song playing in the background, Philip announced that the day’s count was 288. The record had been broken!
Just then the sun disappeared behind a blanket of clouds and drips of rain started appearing from the skies above. Mother Nature held off as long as she could.