Well, you folks weren’t exactly banging down the door to enter the contest. Apparently 500 words is a little longer then most people want to do. I had a bit more response when I just wanted 50 word stuff. However, despite my fear that no one would enter, I had not only entries, but a winner. (Drum roll, please.) And here it is:


By James Danielson

Sirens blared in the distance. I looked down the street. “The first fire truck is still a couple of blocks away, Poppi.”

My great-grandfather shifted in his wheelchair as I returned to his side. “There weren’t fire trucks leading the parade they had for me when I came to America.”

“They had a parade for you?”

He chuckled. “Well, that’s what my mother told me. In a way, she was right. It was for me and the quarter of a million New Yorkers who came.”

“Why did they really have it?”

“They called it a Christmas Parade, but it celebrated Thanksgiving. A lot of Americans are home watching this year’s version on television right now.”

I looked down the street. “It’s so much more fun to be at our parade, even though we have to wear coats and gloves. Still over a block away. Looks like there’s a convertible in front of the fire engines.”

Poppi leaned toward me. “I was about your age when I saw that first parade. Talk about excitement. It was late November, 1924. I had just traveled to this country on a ship called the Stoockholm.”

The speakers on the judging stand squawked behind us.

I turned back and bent down to hear Poppi over the blaring sirens.

“I’d never seen anything like it! Bands and floats and elephants and bears passed right in front of us.”

“Elephant and bear balloons?” I asked.

“No, real animals from the zoo. The first giant helium balloons came a couple of years later.”

I looked up as the convertible stopped in front of us. The sirens fell silent, replaced by Mayor Johnson’s voice on the loudspeaker.

“Fifty years ago Sven Nelson, better known in our town as ‘Poppi’, suggested that Greenville should have a Thanksgiving Parade. We’ve had one every year since. This year, we would like to name his great-grandson Dan Nelson the Grand Marshal, in his honor. “

The mayor worked his way down to me, pinned a badge on my coat and handed me a scepter. I felt ten feet tall.

“Congratulations, Dan,” said the Mayor. “Now if you could hop into the Grand Marshal’s car, we can officially begin.”

My chest pounded as I glanced over at Poppi.

A huge grin crossed his face. “Go!” he said.

The crowd cheered as I jogged to the car, climbed in and sat on the ledge behind the back seat. I held the scepter high in one hand and waved with the other. By the end of the parade, I had smiled so much my face ached, but I would have gladly gone further.

When my family sat down for dinner, the smell of turkey and dressing made my mouth water. I reached for a roll.

“Dan,” said Poppi, “it’s tradition for us all to say what we’re thankful for before we can eat. I think you should go first this year.”

“That’s easy, Poppi! I’m thankful for parades and that you stayed in America.”

I liked that the story went somewhere, even in only 500 words, and that the child both gets to feel lucky (like the prompt said) and that he shows growth in the from of appreciation. Great work, Jim!

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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