November 28, 2000

Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen


It is amazing how exhausting holidays can be. You would think Thanksgiving would be an easy deal except for the magic that has to happen in the kitchen. In many ways it was a normal Thanksgiving for the Sorensens. We made both sides of the family leave their warm Minneapolis homes and trek up to the arctic Forest City of Ely. I still make four pies for Thanksgiving from scratch, while my lovely wife makes countless other delicacies. We got up early to start cooking our 21 pound turkey that was twice as big as our dog. This we expect and look forward to.

What made this Thanksgiving a high gear affair was that my lovely wife decided to volunteer to do the Thanksgiving Parade for the Chamber of Commerce. When she volunteers that really means the entire family volunteers.

My kidlets got the best or worst of it. Part of the theme this year was “Alice in Ely Winter Wonderland.” Adria, my middle child, was drafted for the job of being Alice. She practiced her British accent and with her two other sisters skimmed Carroll’s original book “Alice in Wonderland” and they, also, watched a video of the fairy tale. By the time Thanksgiving arrived Adria sounded as proper as Queen Elisabeth. My oldest daughter, Alexa, was smart and went for the White Rabbit. She figured that a rabbit costume would be very warm and cozy in winter. Alice had to resort to a fur coat to keep her from freezing in her summer cotton dress. My youngest was, also, well insulated in a Tweedledum outfit that looked like it added 150 pounds to her.

For Friday’s parade our volunteer for Tweedledee could not make it. My ever-resourceful wife drafted her hapless sister, Donelle, into the job. I must admit that she did a wonderful job of being Tweedledee. I am sure she never in her wildest dreams expected she was to be in a parade. She has seen us do a lot of crazy things, but has always managed to be an observer. This time she definitely worked for her turkey dinner, as well as leftovers.

Caption: The Alice in Ely Winter Wonderland Players. From left to right: Dylan Weisinger, Adria Sorensen, Donelle Schultz, Anesa Sorensen, Alexis Garrison. Sitting are Desi Garrison and Alexa Sorensen


My luck ran out when a volunteer opted out of taking care of the Chamber float for the parade, so I got to work off my turkey dinner digging out our trailer from the back yard. J&L was kind enough to provide a generator for the Christmas lights. With the help of my wife we decorated the entire float in less then 20 minutes. Into the trailer we stuffed Alice, Tweedledum, Tweedledee, The Mad Hatter, a Four of Hearts Soldier, the White Rabbit, and a lovely Queen of Hearts. It was a great cast and they had fun waving and talking to the parade crowd.

I was hoping to avoid using our 157,000 mile minivan that definitely is not in its prime. My father is lucky enough to have a Caddie that is only a year old. After washing it for the parade I discovered he had left his hitch back in Minneapolis. So much for luxury. I quickly washed the old minivan and prayed it would not over heat during the parade. Luckily, the Ely Thanksgiving parade route was very very short.

After all the hassles was it worth it? Seeing the hundreds of smiling children along the parade route and the excitement of proceeding old St. Nick, himself - Yes, a hundred times yes. I didn’t even mind dragging the trailer through the snow to attach it to our old minivan. Children are such a wonderful gift in a community. We are lucky to have as many as we do. Children are what make every holiday fun. I can’t imagine Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or Halloween without children. They are the frosting on the cake of life.

My children even realized that in their volunteer role as fictional characters. They enjoyed the reaction of the little kids during the parade and, also, as they strolled about town visiting stores. Next to the little kids, the Senior citizens who saw them enjoyed their antics. It is interesting that those of middle age persuasion are too wrapped up in life and responsibility to enjoy fully the magic of seeing a giant White Rabbit. In that respect, I look forward to getting old so I can appreciate the fun things in life.

I am glad we could be part of the magic that makes people want to come to Ely for Thanksgiving. There are so many people that contribute to this magic. Everyone from the volunteers who wrap garlands on our lights, to good old Santa Claus coming to Ely to be in our short parade, help make this a fun town to enjoy during the holidays.

Hands busy with spreading cheer are happy hands. We found that true this Thanksgiving and feel well paid by all the smiles that we saw. Season’s Greetings, Ely!


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