May 19, 2008

Joint Ops Mission Report: Burlington Kid's Day

Burlington, Vermont held their 23rd annual Kid's Day in downtown Burlington, with a theme of Kids in Outer Space. Despite short notice, members of the New England (1) and Canadian (3) Garrisons were able to come together for the first time for the biggest 501st event in Vermont yet. We arrived at 8:30 at the Burlington YMCA, and suited up for the parade that kicked off the event at 9:30. Our small group consisted of a TK (Andrew), two TCs (Marie and Stephen) and a Rebel Fleet Trooper (Luc). The parade started just above the downtown area, and lasted about a mile, all downhill, making it an easy walk for the four of us. While marching, we were quite the hit, as this event was primarily parents and younger children. There were many smiles, and lots of waving and high fives through the entire walk. Many kids were dressed as astronauts, but there was also a Rebel Pilot somewhere in the crowd.

After the parade, which ended at the waterfront, the event was essentially a small fair, with demonstrations and vendors. The Burlington Fire Department, Green Mountain Power and WOKO had booths, as well as various other community organizations. For several hours, we walked around the area, posing for pictures and talking with the guests. This was a very positive event, and we went for several gaps of time without the need for wranglers, as we had several help us out at various points in the day. Frank and Hayes showed up to help out, as well as a friend of mine whom I've worked with. Frank couldn't stay too long, but Hayes picked us up when we walked up to Church Street, a merchant street.

After our time on the waterfront, we made our way up the hill to the down town area, where we stopped by Quarterstaff Games and walked around there for a couple minutes to get our helmets off, before making our way up Church Street. We stopped by an Irish bar Ri Ras, for some water, to the amusment of the patrons and bartender, and then continued up the street, posing for pictures. We'd hoped that the R2-D2 Mailbox was still standing, but it looks like it had been removed. After getting to the top of the street, we turned around and returned ot Memorial Auditorium, where we desuited and packed away our gear. We then returned to Ri Ras for a post-troop dinner (none of us had eaten since early morning), where we had a good meal and talked for a while, before going up the street again to do some shopping, then returned home.

Overall, this was a fantastic troop with a really good reception from the crowds. Early estimates prior to the event was that there would around 10,000 people there. I'm not sure if we saw that many people, but this was certainly the largest event that we'd been to, and the one with the most troopers present.

What was also fantastic was working with Marie, Stephen and Luc, from the Canadian Garrison. Because of the short notice of the event, they were the only ones able to come down, but they are well on their way towards a Squad up there, and they will be keeping us informed of when they do events, so that at the very least, I'll be headed up to give them a hand, and they'll try and make it down for some of our events. It seems that this would be the start of a good collaboration.

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