May 18 was the final day of school (a bit of a stretch to say “day” since Jack had his 6th grade awards ceremony from 8-9 am and then we signed him out), and as always here on Tybee, the last day of school in Chatham County, being the Friday before Memorial Day, ushers in the annual Beach Bum Water Fight Parade. It’s a fun way for everyone on the island to have some fun before the onslaught of summer tourists descends upon us.
For 10 years, we’ve participated in this parade which has been going on for 32 years now. From our first, naive experience when Jack was a wee toddler and we didn’t think kids would deign to shoot water at strangers, much less adults (boy were we wrong!), to the year we were on the inside track of the parade, riding with Jack’s karate instructor, Master Jaime, on his pirate-themed Ultimate Martial Arts float (the same year the parade coincided with our anniversary), to the year it was so cold that the kids were crouching behind the exhaust of the running police car, to experiencing the water fight from various points along the parade route with various friends, it’s not my favorite parade (Wait, you don’t live somewhere that has parades so frequently that you have a preference? I prefer my parades in a chair, on the sidelines, preferably with a drink in my hand, not dodging doses of freezing cold water), but we continue to participate because Jack loves it.
We took our usual parade-watching spot (affectionately known as the “Marion corner” and left Jack to run in and out of the factions charging each other across the street as we waited for the real action to find its way to us towards the end of the parade route. Usually, by the time the floats approach us, we have been out of water for at least 30 minutes, and this year was no exception. There were two families next to us, parents and their teenage kids who were dressed hilariously, one dad wearing a plastic Afro and cape, while his son sported ski goggles and a plastic GI Joe helmet and his wife had a kids-sized plastic Viking helmet and shield. They deemed themselves mercenaries of whichever group had the most water and we watched, amused, as they made, and quickly broke, treaties with the groups around us. As I remained relatively dry, one guy crouched next to me, pretending to need cover to fire at someone, when instead he fired point blank at me. This video by the fabulous Wen McNally captures a blur of Jack as well as the fabulous caped Afro dad.
There were more floats this year that I recall in previous parades, and my favorites were the guys in tiny tanks from The Combat Zone. As we were walking back to the house, the parade participants all make their way down our street, so I got to stop and ask about their unique vehicles. Turns out, they’re new outside the Pooler area and you can rent the tanks and drive them around for a paint battle. That is definitely something that could get me to make the drive off island to brave I-95 traffic and check out this summer.
As always, Beach Bum is a great way for kids to really blow off steam at the end of the school year. And the adults seem to enjoy it just a little as well.