Before the parade passes by

At least, we thought it was over…

In October 1992, almost a year after “Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian” had first aired, our elementary school principal got a call from the local (as I called it in my journal) “retail merchants thing” with an invitation.

Would we like to be grand marshals of the city’s Christmas parade?

Hm.

Can we get back on you on that?

Our families thought this was exciting, but the three of us… weren’t so sure. Again, bear in mind that everything had been over for almost a year, we were now sophomores in high school, drifting into different social circles, and as I noted, “Quite frankly, we’ve all gotten burned out on the whole thing.”

And yet, knowing how everyone with the city and the schools had been so supportive of us and so understanding and so positive (“and believe it or not, I’m not being sarcastic”), I also noted feeling like “we have to be kind of diplomatic, you know. I feel kind of obligated to sort of give everybody here something back for everything they’ve done.”

On the other hand, we all couldn’t help grumbling a little that they should have asked us the year before, and we had to take a couple days to hash things out amongst ourselves and make the decision. (The phrase “civic duty” actually got used at one point.)

I’ve already made a few things clear:

1. Nothing gaudy, tacky, cheesy, or childish. I want this to be mature and dignified.

2. After this parade, we are doing nothing else (except maybe Oprah). We’ve got to cut it off.

(I was always happy to leave the door open for Oprah, just in case. Matter of fact, still am…)

Well, we’re doing it. The three of us—the Spielberg writers, the Toonsters, the Toonettes, the Tiny Toon writers, the Tiny Toon girls, the Tiny Toon women, and a zillion other names—will be grand marshaling the 1992 Christmas Parade here in the stagnant little city of “Where is Waynesboro?” Waynesboro, Virginia.

(Oh, Fifteen. I can just hear how much you appreciate the honor.)

Newspaper article from October 1992. Everyone involved was obviously ecstatic.

In the end, with the help of several layers of clothing and an endless supply of good-natured teenage sarcasm, we piled into an antique red convertible and waved our way down the (freezing) parade route. (Looking up the weather for that day, it looks like it was in about the mid-40s during the parade, which doesn’t seem quite as bad as I made it sound in my journal. But being in an open, moving convertible for that length of time might have had something to do with it.)

We had friends and family cheering us on along the route, of course, including my sister, who livened things up by throwing bang snaps on the ground as the car went by, which made our driver a little nervous. (Definitely file that one under Things It Would Not Be Wise to Do These Days. Actually, it probably wasn’t a great idea even then, to be honest…)

Posterboard sign my sister and brother-in-law used along the parade route. (The other side, for the end of the parade, reads “Hi Santa! We’ve Been Good!”)

So, at last, our civic duty done, we went our various ways. That was the last public appearance for the three of us together. (My final solo event connected to the episode was a presentation to the elementary school during Career Week in the spring of 1993.)

We had finally reached the end of a journey that had started on an ordinary day with an idle sketch drawn on notebook paper in a junior high cafeteria. That journey had given us fifteen minutes of fame, travel opportunities, meetings with celebrities, a not-insignificant paycheck, and memories that ranged from silly to sublime. If you’d asked me then, I would have said that it had all played out, it was all over now, nothing left to come of it, roll the credits and cue Porky Pig.

But as it turned out, that wasn’t quite the end. The improbable sequence of events that became “Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian” had one last bit to play out, one last gift to give, and for me it would be the greatest of the entire experience.

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