Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Light shines in a star shape as horses march in Lodge Grass’ first Christmas Eve parade.Cars continue down the road during the parade, despite snow and freezing temperatures.

Against all odds, light shines

Editor’s note: Dave Graber, band director for the Lodge Grass Indians Band from 1986 to 2001, attended the town’s first Christmas Eve parade recently, which continued despite snow and cold weather. Here is his recollection.
 
The night before Christmas Eve, my wife Bonnie and I left the house for our car and were met with a wall of cold air.
 
Who could think of mounting a horse or a float, and parading in this cold? No. They will surely call it off. We went to Lodge Grass nonetheless because we were curious, having seen a Facebook page from BethYana Pease and the young people of the Valley of the Chiefs announcing the daring event.
 
Subconsciously, I already knew, from being with the Lodge Grass Indians Band in three back-toback state basketball tournament wins, folks from the Valley of the Chiefs are keen on doing the impossible. They surely would turn sensible in the cold and call off the parade.
 
The sun set before we crossed the tracks by the Little Horn IGA and drove up the hill to the school.
 
I expected an empty parking lot. Instead, through the frosted windows of our car, we saw an amazing sight. It looked like the summer powwow parade-time gathering at Gas Cap Junction. Horse were being bridled and saddled, and decked with Pendletons. Floats were being loaded with antlers, greens and boxes for seats. There were bags of candy.
 
But something was different. Christmas lights! On horses, pickups, floats and even on people. We watched as horses stamped and steamed frozen fog. We watched children and adults pulling off gloves to tie on lights and decorations, and quickly replacing the gloves. When everyone began wrapping blankets and scarfs around themselves and mounting horses, floats and pickup cabs, we hurried to the bottom of school hill to catch a good view.
 
By then, dusk had descended to velvet dark blue, and the horses’ breathing fogged enough to play with the lights coming down the hill. The visual effects were stunning, and hard to record with a camera. In my simple cellphone view, I caught several images of a cross, a star, of the mingling of the fog, silhouetting horses and riders. It gave a visual impression of a choir of angels descending school hill to the town below.
 
As the procession wound through Lodge Grass, crowds of cars joined us with only a few people braving the cold to actually stand outside and watch. My guess is that the size and strength of this parade has not been exceeded for a good while.
 
Everyone ended up in the warmth of the community hall. The enthusiasm and bond of love in the crowd of hundreds was celebrated. The victory of light in Lodge Grass was capped with hot chocolate, several pots of stew and a crisp party mix. A large contribution of gifts ensured that every child got at least one present, with carefully orchestrated handouts and a push dance special.
 
What an amazing victory over cold and darkness. I won’t miss next year after this first annual Lodge Grass Christmas Parade. It was a miracle of light defeating cold and darkness. Thanks to these young people, and the families that support them!
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