It’s December. Do you know what that means? Among many other things, that means it’s time to post this year’s Christmas card!
It’s December. Do you know what that means? Among many other things, that means it’s time to post this year’s Christmas card!
The Chelsea fair parade was on Saturday, the last day of the fair. For as long as I can remember I’ve sat with my family and watched the parade go by, but this year…well, this year was just a little bit different. Okay, it was a LOT bit different. Because I was named the citizen of the year, I was invited to ride in the parade. How crazy is that?! THAT’S SO CRAZY.
I planned to take two things with me in the parade:
1: Candy, because anyone who grew up in Chelsea knows candy is an important part of this complete parade, and
2: My cameras, because I had one particular photograph in mind — I’ll let you know which one — and because…well, because that’s why I got to be in the parade in the first place.
(I ended up having my nephew Clayton ride with me, and that turned out to be wise because throwing candy in the Chelsea fair parade is a full-time occupation.)
The helpful people at the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce had called me to let me know where I needed to be and when I needed to be there. I wrote down the details:
At the appointed time, we arrived at the designated spot on East Street to find a lovely red Mustang waiting. (Varsity Ford was kind enough to provide a car and a driver — thank you, Varsity!) Here’s the car:
And here’s the sign on the side so people would know why that random guy was smiling and waving in the parade:
I also discovered my friends the Van Hoeks had made a fun sign for me:
As we were waiting for the parade to begin, Howdy Holmes — the man in charge of the company responsible for Jiffy Mixes — stopped by to say hi. When I mentioned that I was just a tiny bit sad not to be watching the parade because it meant I wouldn’t get a box of Jiffy, he walked to the Jiffy truck waiting on the next block and came back with not one but THREE boxes of Jiffy Mixes!
I know it’s easy to buy Jiffy at the grocery store, but I’ve always enjoyed getting the box from the fair parade. Having Howdy hand-deliver three boxes? It doesn’t get any better than that. Thanks, Howdy!
You may have noticed the odd symbols on my shirt. Those are old shorthand symbols from my grandmother’s Munson Shorthand Dictionary. Not too long ago I made a shirt featuring the Munson symbol for Michigan, and because of that, my friend Sara — a fount of awesomeness — said I should make a shirt with the symbols for “citizen of the year” and wear it in the parade. I wasn’t sure if she was joking, but I couldn’t resist that idea. Here I am with Sara and the shirt she suggested:
As 1:00 drew nigh, Clayton and I climbed into the car and waited for the parade to start. This was our view as we waited:
When we started moving, I thought hey, why I don’t I just take a bunch of pictures down the whole route? So I did. What follows is a sampling of those photos (with a more complete set compiled into a gif at the end of the post).
Here we are on Middle Street:
I was happy to discover who was directly in front of us in the parade: none other than the Monitor Base Ball Club of Chelsea! They were accompanied by a club from Northville — they had a match after the parade.
We continued on Middle…
…and approached Main…
…and turned onto Main.
The next photo is the reason I took my camera with me:
Here we are approaching the old post office:
And then the library:
Just past Summit Street:
At the now-vacant Federal Screw Works property:
It’s still a little strange to see that property without a huge factory building on it.
Just past Lincoln Street:
See those folks off in the distance on the left? I know those people. It has been alleged that I am related to those people.
Those two camera-wielding people on the left are my parents. Here’s a better look:
Here’s the rest of the rowdy crew:
We kept driving south:
We passed Pierce Park:
Somewhere in that crowd on the left are my friends Chris and Aubrey from the fabulous Chelsea Alehouse. They’re very friendly.
When we reached Old US 12…
…we turned right and headed past the Wolverine toward the fairgrounds.
We turned left onto Old Manchester Road and stopped in front of the fairgrounds, and that was the conclusion of my first ride in the Chelsea fair parade.
As promised, here’s an animation of the series of photos I took down the parade route:
I thoroughly enjoyed my ride in the parade. Many thanks to all who had a hand in giving me that opportunity!
The second evening of the derby drew another big crowd.
Every once in a while a car loses a sliiiiiightly important part.
The driver wasn’t amused by that development, but as you can see in the above photo, the crowd enjoyed it.
Another car got stuck on the wall.
When the heat was done, the car that lost more than just a tire needed some help to exit the arena.
Here’s a closer look at the damage.
If you had told 10 year old me I would see this device doing this task at a demolition derby someday, I probably would have said “A WHATphone?”
I also probably would have said “Where do you put the VHS tape?” and also maybe “Who are you and why are you talking so confidently about the year 2013?”
Partway through the derby, the officials stopped the action and the firefighters rushed to a car that clearly wasn’t on fire.
Before long, paramedics joined the firefighters.
From my angle I couldn’t see what they were doing, but they worked for a bit — maybe 10-15 minutes — until the driver emerged with her arm heavily reinforced.
I got a chance to talk to the driver a week later. It was an unpleasant injury that’ll take time to heal, but she’ll be okay. Injuries like that aren’t common in the derby — I couldn’t remember seeing a stoppage like that, and another spectator could remember seeing only one other similar stoppage — but things can happen when you crash a bunch of cars into each other.
When everyone was clear, the derby resumed. And there were more people recording the action.
There was a young fan enjoying the derby, too.
A bit later there was a very minor fire.
Fires like that aren’t uncommon in the derbies, and they’re typically short-lived and inconsequential. This one was no exception. But it made for a fun photo!
There was a pickup truck heat during the Wednesday derby. Since trucks are built to stay in one piece and run forever, the truck derbies tend to be a lot of fun.
Remember what I said in the Tuesday derby post about the moment when a radiator explodes with a loud POP and a cloud of steam and the crowd laughs and cheers? This is what that looks like:
Now that I think about it, perhaps SHUMP would a better description of that sound. Would you agree, derby aficionados?
When the trucks were done rumpling metal, the cars came back out for the Wednesday final.
That’s it for the regular demolition derby photos, but there are plenty of fair photos to come!
The Chelsea Fair has always included plenty of livestock, but a relatively new offering at the fair is a barn that features both recently born animals and live births (if the timing is right). When I visited the barn, I found a crowd around the piglets.
Elsewhere, there were rabbits. Lots and lots of rabbits. I found one rabbit that was having an especially relaxing afternoon.
When I was browsing the craft barn, I found a craft with a familiar face on it:
Those are newspaper flowers in a newspaper bag, and as you can see, the newspaper she used for the front of the bag is the front page from the week I was named Chelsea citizen of the year. Kira, the cheerful young Chelsea resident who made that craft, told me she used that page on purpose and asked them to be sure it was visible. Thank you, Kira!
Tuesday night at the fair is one of three demolition derby nights. The derbies are a longstanding feature of the fair, and they tend to draw large crowds of people like me — people who enjoy watching battered old cars smash into each other. Hey, don’t judge us. It’s FUN!
The Tuesday and Wednesday night derbies are all about being the last car that can move. Or, as the longtime announcer whose tenure ended a couple years ago would have said, “TOTAL DESTRUCTION!” (Does anyone know his name? I grew up listening to his calls of the derbies, but I never knew his name.) As long as your car can move and you’re making contact with another action automobile, you’re in.
In preparation for the derby, everything that isn’t integral to the basic operation of the car is removed. You may note that you can see THROUGH this car:
The trunk lid is still there, but a whole lot of other stuff isn’t. Like the back seat, and the front passenger seat, and…
Sometimes the way cars get…uh…altered in the derby results in some fun collisions:
The back end of the car on the left was like that to some degree before the derby started, so chances are good it had run in a previous year’s derby. Cars of that era are getting hard to find, so more and more cars are being reused if possible. Others appear to be new to the derby:
Sometimes a car gets pushed up on the wall early:
That leaves the unfortunate driver to watch the rest of that heat in a car that (probably) runs fine but can’t move.
Some cars are dedicated to family or friends. This car was for grandma:
Here’s a better look:
Here’s another look at the 3277 car you saw in the second photo:
We took to calling it the ramp. The shape of its back end and and the earlier photo should make clear our reason for choosing that name.
As the cars get more and more battered, they can start losing parts. This car got its bumper hooked onto another car due to a collision:
Officials won’t stop the derby for a lot of loose parts, but when something potentially dangerous like a bumper is loose on the track, they’ll stop everyone so they can clear it. The announcer explained it by saying they’ll stop the derby if there’s a loose part that could potentially poke through a floorboard and injure a driver.
SCENERY BREAK: there was a beautiful moon Tuesday evening.
Okay, back to the vehicular violence.
Radiators seldom fare well in a derby:
For us spectators, some of the enjoyable derby moments happen when someone hits a radiator just right, or when a radiator decides it just can’t go on. There’s a loud POP and a huge cloud of steam (and usually some laughter and cheering from the crowd). Sadly, I don’t have any such photos like that in this set.
As I said, this was the first of three nights of derbies at the fair. I attended all three derbies, so be sure to come back! (Don’t worry: there will be photos of other events, too.)
Without a doubt, one of the best events in town is the Chelsea Fair. I grew up going to the fair, and I still look forward to fair week every year.
The 76th Chelsea Community Fair kicked off on Tuesday with the kids parade.
The parade ends at the fairgrounds, where there were games for the kids to play. While the kids were waiting for the games to start, a gentleman near me noticed that a certain group of kids had full signal.
One of the games had kids searching through wood shavings for change.
Nearby was a tricycle pull.
There were sack races, too.
The fair continued through Saturday. Stay tuned for a whole bunch of photos from fair week in Chelsea!
Last Sunday was the first-ever Chelsea History Fest at Timbertown. There were antique cars and craft demonstrators…and vintage base ball! It may come as no surprise to you that I spent most of my time watching base ball.
The first match was an exhibition between the Monitor Base Ball Club of Chelsea and a collection of locals given the name Scrub Nine. This is the Scrub Nine:
The team included representatives from Chelsea schools, the Chelsea library, Vogel’s & Fosters, and the Chelsea Alehouse. None of the players had experience with the vintage game, so Honest Jon game them an overview of the rules.
After the usual intros…
…the game got started.
(That’s Chelsea library director Bill Harmer swinging for the fences. Well, he would have been swinging for the fences had there been fences. Don’t worry: he doesn’t carry a bat in the library.)
The second match was against the Lumber City Base Ball Club of Flint. Here are the two captains having a chat during the exhibition match.
Are vintage base ball uniforms the best? Yes. Yes they are.
There were other cameras out, but unlike the ones at Sounds & Sights, they weren’t pointing at me!
After a break, the intros for the second match started. Uniform + mustache = YES.
They modified the bat toss just slightly for this match:
Then the match started.
As I mentioned at the beginning, there were other events happening, too. Many of the other events were wrapping up by the time I pried myself away from base ball, but there were still a couple demonstrators working.
The above gentleman was weaving the official tartan of the state of Michigan. Did you know there was such a thing? There is!
The evening started with a Q&A session with Furler for those who bought VIP tickets.
It was a good Q&A session. Also, Peter Furler is Australian, which means he has an Australian accent, which means he always sounds more interesting than all of us Americans. (He was giving substantial and worthwhile answers to questions. I’m just sayin’…accents, man. Accents. They’re powerful.)
After the rest of the crowd found seats, Marshall McLuhan took the stage. (Well, he didn’t TAKE it. He just stood on it. He left it where it was when he was done.)
Just so you know, this isn’t Marshall McLuhan the Canadian philosopher. This is Marshall McLuhan the pastor in Michigan. While it might have been interesting to see McLuhan the philosopher open for Peter Furler at Knox, I think we got the right one. (In part because the philosopher is no longer alive, but mostly because of, you know, music and stuff.)
In this next photo, McLuhan’s drummer bears a faint resemblance to Detroit Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman:
If you’re a Red Wings fan you probably got extraordinarily nostalgic when you saw the above picture. I’ll give you a minute to relive your favorite memories of The Captain.
Okay, back to the show.
When McLuhan finished his set, Furler took the stage. (Well, he didn’t…oh, never mind.)
I wasn’t the only one taking pictures.
PHOTOGRAPHER ASIDE: There were quite a few people taking photos with their smartphones, and a few made the mistake of forgetting to turn off their smartphone’s flash. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw the occasional smartphone flash lighting up the people directly in front of it and…nothing else. These are the kinds of things that amuse me as a photographer.
Furler had a drummer, but I don’t think his drummer resembled any Red Wings legends.
Later in the show, McLuhan and his band joined Furler on stage.
Many thanks to Furler, McLuhan, and all who worked hard to put this show together. It was a great evening.
Another week of Sounds & Sights. This time I felt like I was being watched:
No need to call the police, though. That’s just one of our marvelous librarians getting photos of the happenings on the library lawn.
Hey, guess who was there again? That’s right! Kevin Kramis! Hi Kevin.
Seriously though, Kevin is great. I’m always glad to see him here.
Did you notice Kevin’s shirt? I have one of those shirts too. It’s one of my favorite shirts, even though I feel like I should have to give it back because I got it from the library and everything from the library has a due date…right? (I’M NEVER GIVING IT BACK.)
Los Dingos Del Norte was down the street.
They decided to take my picture too. WHAT IS GOING ON.
Also entertaining the crowd was Creole du Nord.
One member of the audience caught my eye.
Stroller Dog: just chillin’.
Liquid Plasma was at the Sylvan building.
The Anthony Lai Band was by the clocktower.
Do you know what’s across the street from the clocktower? Why, only another iconic Chelsea structure:
The Jiffy silos: always deliciously standing watch over Chelsea.
Under the clocktower gazebo was the Michigan Academy of Dance and Music.
Finally, Mitchell Curley was in the East Alley.
Sounds & Sights will continue this Thursday from 6:30pm-8:30pm in downtown Chelsea.
Look! It’s more Sounds & Sights! Once again, let’s start at the library with Kevin Kramis.
I enjoy seeing the expressions comedians make while they’re working.
I’m sorry, Kevin. I couldn’t resist.
Elsewhere, The North Creek Fiddlers were hanging out by the courthouse.
This member of the audience was especially enthusiastic.
Others were enjoying the music more sedately.
And others were taking pictures.
(What, were you expecting a picture of me? Dream on.)
Up on East Middle was the Dorkestra.
When I arrived, they had a volunteer helping with percussion.
Kari Holmes was in the alley on Main.
She was singing…
…and then she saw my camera…
…and she was singing and smiling for the camera! #multitasking
Back at the library, Mike Green was making the crowd laugh.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, I enjoy comedians’ expressions.
Sounds & Sights will continue in downtown Chelsea this Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30.