Dime Store Candy Causes Riot in Small Southern Town

I like candy. Well, that's not really true. I like two kinds of candy. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (that counts as candy right?) and Sweettarts. Sure those may be the only sweets I like, but I like them a great deal. I would not however trample other people to get them. Nor would I stand for several hours only for the chance to yell at a passing vehicle in the hopes that the driver might throw me some of my favorite candies. Apparently I am alone with these standards in North Louisiana.

Working for the radio station (you people did read my bio, right?) I sometimes have to make public appearances. These are often for broadcasting from a special sale (which is awesome 'cause I get paid big bucks for talent fee), sometimes I do call-ins to the station from a concert in the area (which is awesome, 'cause I get to see a concert for free and sometimes meet the artists), other times, I ride around in a van with our call letters on the side throwing cheap candy at crazed locals (not so awesome, 'cause, well, I figure it's self explanatory). Saturday I did that last one.

I was accompanied by my good friend and fellow DJ, Andrei. Dre (which is his street name) for those that don't know him, is originally from Romania (that's right ladies and gentlemen, the only Romanian working in country music). Even though he has been in the states for almost twenty years, he still finds immense pleasure in the small idiosyncrasies of American life (I chalk this up to the fact that he lived under a brutal dictatorial regime before coming to America. Democracy wins again!). The parade was no different.

I won't say what town the parade was in, but it was the official kickoff for their Christmas celebration. They light the whole town, have a Santa House in the middle of town, do carriage rides, the whole nine yards. The parade is the starter pistol for their yuletide celebrations. Judging from the crowds we saw in this minute little town, these people take their Christmas very seriously.

There were barricades to hold back the crowds in most places (I scoffed at this at first, but after the first turn I realized without them the crowds would probably flip the van in their quest for candy. While Ruston also hosts a Christmas parade (a little closer to the Holiday) the numbers attending this (much smaller) town's parade dwarfed those of Ruston. The parade itself was also significantly longer as everyone with four wheels, a motor and a platform to stand or sit on seemed to be in the parade. One wonders how there were people left to attend.

By the end of the ordeal I was disgusted and a little drained. My compatriot, however, was energized and pleased. Apparently they feed those Romanians fairy dust and wishes. Here now without further ado...

Differences between Andrei, the Romanian, and Joel, the Drunken Rogue While Riding in a Parade

1. The Drunken Rogue locks a fake smile into place only to be interrupted by the occasional awe-struck look as the townspeople beat each other into submission for "Strawberry Chews." The Romanian is constantly surprised (and pleased) by the excitement of the parade goers, he not only wears a big silly grin, but accompanies it with yuletide greetings. I didn't even know they had Christmas in Romania.

2. The Drunken Rogue becomes a candy throwing machine (mostly to satiate the bursting crowd) ripping bags in two as he hurls handful after handful into the mob. The Romanian gingerly throws a carefully picked bunch every few seconds, but accompanies the throw with vocal flair "Yah!" or "THERE YOU GO!" or occasionally even, "Happy Christmas Parade Day!" It is literally a miracle the Rogue didn't kill him somewhere along the parade route.

3. The Drunken Rogue takes turns widely, trying to center both himself and Dre between the barricades. He hurls the candy with Herculean power reaching not only the crowd, but the back rows of spectators. The Romanian finds it difficult to throw (even his small handfuls of candy) further than a few feet. Mostly he leaves piles and piles of candy just this side of the barricade resulting in unhappy children, and at least one accident as an overzealous parade-goer could not resist the lure of the "Peach Chews" and leapt the security barricade only to be crushed by the Shriner Mobile following us. Tragic really.

4. With only five minutes left on the parade route the van suffers two setbacks: we run out of candy (probably because Dre has left so much on the side of the road and not in the hands of parade goers) and our speaker system goes on the fritz leaving us tuneless. The Drunken Rogue is calm and cool in the face of this adversity, continuing to wave and smile except at the hecklers who receive a quick flip of the Christmas bird (it's just like the regular bird you flip, only at Christmas time). The Romanian crumbles under the pressure, actually exiting the van at one point to beg forgiveness of the crowd for running out of candy. He's lucky I had my stun gun and riot gear to get him out of the crowd or they might have crucified him.

5. After leaving the parade route, the Drunken Rogue immediately suggests stopping for some greasy fast food, needing to knock out the faux-holiday spirit with some processed red meat and cholesterol. The Romanian thinks we should head back to the house where we'll bake sugar cookies in the shape of snowmen, and share our feelings on the Christmas season before we sing our favorite carols. Pansy.

You are all safe for the next year, but if you happen to find yourself in a small North Louisiana town next Christmas season, amidst the rampaging, candy hungry crowd, let's hope you have better back up than a Romanian.