|2011 Elmo makes his Isla debut|
Just this week our good friends Freddy Medina and his beautiful wife Yadira Velazquez (Eva) stopped by our little house on Isla Mujeres.
Freddy said, “I want to re-name the Christmas parade in honor of my good friend Lawrie.
I was speechless.
Freddy continued, “Without his help this parade would never have happened and I want everyone to remember him.”
I suggested that since Lawrie’s grandsons always called him “Elmo” why didn’t he call it Elmo’s Christmas Caravan.
This year Freddy has set the date to be Friday December 21st, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Here’s how this whole parade thing happened.
The Beginning – September 2011
“Hey, cool. We’re invited to a Halloween party October 31st 2011, at Curtis and Ashley’s house Villa la Bella,” Lawrie said as he read aloud an email invite.
A month later the local postman arrived on his delivery moto at our front door with an enormous cotton sack tagged with Lawrie’s name and our address.
“What the heck is that?” I asked, oblivious to Lawrie’s recent on-line costume shopping.
That – was an Elmo costume shipped from the manufacturer Claudio Mascots Oficial Lima Peru; a large, furry, crimson-red, costume complete with big head and google eyes. It was amazing. Beautifully made, and an exact replica of Elmo.
Years ago when Lawrie’s eldest grandson was learning to talk he thought Lawrie’s name was Elmo, and the nickname stuck. The boys were coming for a visit in December 2011. Lawrie decided he could get double-duty from the costume; the Halloween party, and greeting our grandsons at the Ultramar boat.
The Elmo costume was a huge hit. In the next two years it was used many times over by Lawrie when he greeted arriving nephews, nieces, great-nephews, great-nieces, sister and brother-in-law and friends at the Ultramar ferry docks. Elmo-Lawrie was invited to the Barlito’s 1st Anniversary celebration when they were still on Hidalgo Avenue.
Everyone wanted their photos taken with Elmo; kids, parents, and grandparents. Even a few of the slightly dubious characters that hang around on the street corner late in the evenings wanted a photo with Elmo.
Then in 2013 our friend Freddy Medina asked if he could borrow the costume for a birthday fiesta for a special young boy on the island.
Freddy was so overwhelmed by the happiness of the young lad that he suggested the idea of a Christmas parade featuring Elmo and our newest character costumes, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, purchased for yet another Halloween party at Villa la Bella.
2013 Elmo-Freddy makes his parade debut
The first parade in 2013 was hilarious. There were only about eight or nine vehicles, and a dozen or so motos.
Our jefe, Freddy was late and the golf carts had lined up nice and neat, facing north. We were supposed to be facing south to head into the colonias first.
What did we know? We were all new at this parade stuff. We eventually got turned around heading south towards the densely populated neighbourhoods.
The parade bounced through the colonias on a higgledy-piggledy route that the driver of the lead vehicle had mapped out in his head.
|2013 Parade route – Alexis’ photo|
We had absolutely no idea what we were getting into.
The excitement on the faces of the youngsters.
The grandparents and parents running to find the kids to come see Elmo, Mickey, Minnie, Sponge Bob, clowns and the Grinch.
The noise the confusion. The laughter.
|Mickey and his driver Chuck Watt|
Lawrie and I had bought five pounds of candy, but part way through the route we asked our drivers, Chuck and Marcy Watt, for an emergency stop at Donasusa to purchase another five pounds.
2013 was also the year that we learned not to get out of the golf carts in our costumes.
Lawrie had waded into the crowd to say hi to the kids, when a group of inebriated young men thought it would be uproariously funny to lob Mickey Mouse in to the air and catch him – a few times. So picture this, a full-sized man, in a full-body mouse costume including a very large head being tossed up and down in a crowd. Only in Mexico!
|Lawrie, Lynda and Sparky|
Two hours later our tired raggedy group disbanded in centro on Rueda Medina. Elmo’s vehicle happened to park near the assembly point for the Municipal Presidente of Isla’s Christmas cavalcade.
The Presidente suggested to Freddy that Elmo should join that parade. Freddy who had just spent two hours dancing in the back of a pickup truck wearing a full-body fur-suit was soaked through to his underwear with perspiration.
However, one does not say no to the Presidente. And away he went, dancing and shouting Feliz Navidad for another two hours.
A new Elmo was born!
|2014 parade – little Minnie Mouse|
In 2014 we had more people join the group bringing the total to about twenty vehicles. Freddy arranged for the funny bus for participants who didn’t want to drive but wanted to be part of the event.
The funny bus is a two level dilapidated vehicle, decorated with coloured lights and blasting loud music. It haunted the island streets for a few years, the operator charging a small amount of money to take people on an after-dark tour of the island.
|2014 Funny people in the Funny bus|
That year we followed a route dictated by the height of the double-decker. The low hanging electrical wires are always a challenge in Mexico.
The typical solution is to have a person stand on the top of a truck or vehicle with a wooden broom to lift the wires out of the way.
Yep, lift live wires with a broom! Happens all the time. But when it’s a parade there just isn’t the time to lift every low hanging line and sneak past, while the passengers duck below the seatbacks.
It was easier to find a different route. Once again the experience was amazing – noise, people, dogs, kids, and loud music. That year we tossed fifteen pounds of candy to the crowds.
|2015 Mrs. Claus and Santa|
By 2015, and you would think we would have the routine figured out. More or less, mas o menos. The funny bus was once again available which meant our route was similar to the previous year, heading south, staying the main roads and finishing in Centro near the new Muelle 7 Restaurante on Rueda Medina.
We had all of the usual character costumes in the parade, along with the addition of Batman-Jimmy. Santa John Pasnau and Mrs. Claus Valerie Pasnau quietly inserted themselves in the middle of the lineup giving the kids an additional thrill as Santa waved and said, “ho, ho, ho.”
|2015 our escorts|
2015 was the first year that we had a police escort in the form of four motorcycle cops who tried their very best to keep us all together. It was a bit like trying to herd cats, which if you have ever been owned by a cat you will know is an impossible task. Some of the vehicles broke down. A few drivers turned the wrong way. And still others had non-parade vehicles cut in between, causing more confusion. The laughing youngsters and their smiling parents made it all worthwhile.
|2016 Participants lining up by our casa|
And then there was the 2016 parade, Saturday December 17th – our 4th Annual Christmas Caravan.
We had trucks, cars, dozens of golf carts, two tuk-tuks and a handful of motorcycles, but not the funny bus. It seems to have finally died, expired.
We had Elmo, Santa, Mrs. Claus, Mickey, Minnie and a Ninja Turtle.
There were at least four or five dogs including our Sparky, dressed for the occasion riding in their decorated golf carts. There were dozens of Santa hats, decorations bought, and decorations hand-made. Music. Lights. Candy.
|2016 Mrs. Claus and Santa|
Without the bus our route was more flexible. We wound south from our casa along the Salinas Chica neighbourhood, into Salinas Grande, Las Glorias, through narrow side-streets along the main road, turning again into the colonias across from Oscar’s Pizza, popped out onto the main road by Chedraui grocery store and back into centro.
But we weren’t finished yet. Our leader took us on a cross-hatch route along Madero, Medina, Abasolo, Guerreo, Juarez, Matamoros, and Medina again. At the end we gathered in the square in centro.
Wow! Just wow. Our faces hurt from smiling. Our throats were dry from laughing. The best parade yet. There was somewhere around fifty vehicles in total. Thank you so much to everyone participated in the celebration of fun and family. You are what makes this event so special.
|Elmo-Freddy and Elmo-Lawrie|
In 2017 Lawrie and I returned to Canada to celebrate Christmas with his large extended family. He was having health issues and we sensed that this might be his last chance to celebrate a Lock family Christmas.
Rob and Julie Goth happily stepped in to become the new Mickey and Minnie for 2017 and for any future parades.
Elmo’s Christmas Caravan is usually the last Saturday before Christmas Eve, but our intrepid leader Freddy Medina sets the date. If you want to join in next year just contact Freddy or me on Facebook. Don’t forget to add battery-powered Christmas lights and a music system to your shopping list. Buying them here is very hit-and-miss.
|Elmo getting his annual – post parade bath|
As for the Elmo costume of the 2011 Halloween party, it now resides at Freddy’s house. It’s a very good home for Elmo. Thank you for being the good-hearted, crazy person who thought up this event.
And thank you Freddy Medina for honoring my sweetie with changing the name to Elmo’s Christmas Caravan.
This year Freddy has set the date to be Friday December 21st, 2018 starting at 5:30 p.m.
|Elmo-Lawrie and Lynda – 2011|