Washington City Paper
At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown had a gigantic truck at the July 4 Palisades parade. (Photo by Michael Grass)
While Palisades residents love their annual July 4 parade and the throngs of local politicians and would-be politicians it brings to their leafy Ward 3 neighborhood, they might be already regretting it.
And they certainly will by Tuesday or Wednesday when sustained high temperatures near the century mark will make all the horse excrement plopped on the hot asphalt stink to high heaven.
After leaving the post-parade festivities at Palisades Park, complete with free hot dogs and moon bounce, City Desk surveyed the remains of the parade along its MacArthur Boulevard route. Parts of it were quite malodorous. But it wasn't necessarily trashed like last month’s Capital Pride Parade.
All the candy that Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans and his supporters showered on parade goers seemed to be snapped up. The children of Ward 3 certainly love their sugary treats! City Desk wonders if Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, fresh off her legislative victory to mandate healthy school lunches, will soon start a push for a Healthy Parades Act. Will someone not think of the children and their dental health?
Cheh, meanwhile, had her supporters pass out miniature copies of the U.S. Constitution, not particularly exciting as a freebie but quite fitting for a George Washington University professor specializing in constitutional law.
Some savvy politicians targeted parade-goers with implements to beat the heat. The campaign of D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, who is challenging Mayor Adrian Fenty in the September Democratic primary, passed out miniature fans. Team Fenty, meanwhile distributed water bottles and green towels, to which DCist’s Martin Austermuhle remarked via Twitter: "Not very soft, like the candidate!" (When City Desk touched a Fenty towel, it was indeed quite abrasive -- a mix between sandpaper, chamois and ratty gym towel. Did Hizzoner not test the hand-out on his bald head prior to distribution?)
Fenty and Gray "[b]oth did a good job keeping people cool," said Nate Bennett-Fleming, who is running for D.C. shadow representative and passed out around 1,000 Nate-branded bottles of water.
Campaigning has never been an especially environmentally friendly activity, with all the signs, stickers, Mardi Gras beads, pamphlets and the like that generally have a short life span before being trashed.
One resident of MacArthur Boulevard, hosting a July 4 parade-watching party on her front lawn, told City Desk that she wished Mayor Fenty’s Green Team would’ve been more green with his parade freebies.
"I support him on school reform. But these water bottles -- look, they're everywhere!" The woman, who said she would be voting for Fenty, didn’t want to disclose her name. "I know not to criticize the mayor. He rides his bike up here."
The mayor, to his credit, did have his trusty Smart car at the parade, which was dwarfed by the monster truck At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown, who is running for D.C. Council chairman, had at the parade. City Desk was concerned that the gigantic vehicle would not be able to navigate some of the tight turns of the parade route, especially at Edmunds Place and Sherier Place where regular traffic jams developed as the parade snaked its way into Palisades Park.
The campaigns of Gray and former Ward 5 Councilmember Vincent Orange, who is running for D.C. Council chairman, did the best job at preemptively claiming all the good sign space along MacArthur Boulevard. Four years ago, Fenty's mayoral campaign had the best ground game. This time, Gray bested the incumbent and had an excellent post-parade sign collection operation. Two hours after the parade started, you would have had difficulty knowing that Gray was even at the event. (We pity the sign-carrying Gray campaign supporter that City Desk spotted walking all the way to his car parked out in front of the German Chancery on Reservoir Road, but not as much as the overheated Bolivian dancers who were weighted down by pounds of colorful costumes!)
Perhaps City Desk missed him, but we were hoping that Orange would be cruising MacArthur Boulevard on a Segway passing out candy and beads, just like he did during his ill-fated mayoral run four years ago. There were reports, however, that Orange was busy stumping for votes at an ice cream truck. Orange, known for his larger-than-life personality, seemed to be no match for Brown’s behemoth truck, which was a regular topic of conversation at the parade. (Orange, to his credit, had an aggressive signature-gathering operation.)
"This is the Washington, D.C., parade," said Patrick Mara, the school board candidate from Ward 1 who is better known for knocking off longtime At-Large Councilmember Carol Schwartz during the 2008 Republican primary, therefore depriving Palisades parade-goers of seeing Schwartz in her eye-popping yellow TransAm convertible. Even if Ward 3 voters -- who form the core of the Palisades parade turnout -- can't vote in your race, "you need to have a good showing here," said Mara, who had 20 supporters working the parade and post-parade party. "It says something about the strength of someone’s candidacy."
In that case, City Desk nominates the "Millwood Mob" for something, but we aren't sure what. Millwood Lane NW, a short street connecting Loughboro and Glenbrook roads, year after year fields a very organized showing at the parade, complete with its own queen. Imagine if the Millwood Mob would form its own political party! Watch out Mary Cheh!
Because of the hot weather, At-Large candidate Clark Ray may have been the wisest person at the parade wearing a white sleeveless shirt, though this writer’s recently deceased great aunt, a feisty, opinionated longtime Palisades resident, would have likely scoffed at any politician displaying bare shoulders.
But Team Ray was out in full force and was warmly received by the crowd, along with incumbent Phil Mendelson.
The one person who was missing was Don Peebles, the big-time developer and would-be mayoral candidate who kept political watchers on edge for months as he weighed a challenge to Fenty. (Through artfully crafted language, he decided not to run.) City Desk thinks Peebles should have teamed up with Matthew Lesko and his question-mark mobile -- a perfect way to continue to toy with the populous!