looking in the shop window
on a walk into a quiet downtown
i am reminded.
The T-Rex Walking Club parades in Ferndale,MI
The T-Rex Walking Club takes a stroll to bring joy during the coronavirus pandemic. A silly and secret club formed during the pandemic is on a quest to bring smiles to the faces of kids, and a few adults, while under Michigan’s stay home order.
On Friday, when Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended Michigan’s order, there was parade of a pink unicorn, followed by a gentle giraffe, a ferocious bear, a swinging stegosaurus, Scooby-Doo and a shark too, a tall pterodactyl, a trotting triceratops, a black-and-white penguin, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, a friendly T-Rex, another penguin, and a one-eyed Minion.
This motley crew, which calls itself the Ferndale T-Rex Walking Club, takes its unannounced strolls through neighborhoods. There are other characters, too, and a few members have costumes on order. On their next walks, you might see an additional unicorn, more sharks, a polar bear, a gorilla, a Godzilla, an alligator, a hippo, a flamingo, a zebra, and an upside-down clown.
Most members of the club are also members of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.The point of the parade, is to cheer up the community during otherwise gloomy times and get children and adults to smile, said Oscar Renautt, who heads the Elks public relations committee.
The T-Rex club has its own set of rules. You must be invited; have an enclosed, inflatable costume; wear a face mask; and you can never, ever tell anyone where — or when — the group is going to go walking.
The founder, Ms. Ignash, received her pink unicorn costume one Christmas, has had it for years, and she’d occasionally show up somewhere in it for a laugh. Then, she posted the article in Facebook for local residents and they thought it was a good idea. Folks asked her to organize an event, so she did. It was right after the stay-at-home order, and within two hours, close to 200 people were interested.
Ignash decided that it was a totally crazy idea, and irresponsible to create crowds of people during a pandemic, so she canceled the event, and started over. Instead, she created a private group and invited just a couple of friends to join her. They went on a walk in costume, and then another, and another, adding a few friends — and characters — each time.
The costumes are so big that they naturally require the walkers to space out about six-feet apart, a social distancing requirement of the governor’s order. They also don’t want to spread the virus so they wear masks.Visibility inside isn’t so good either, and it can get hot inside the costume. So they don’t walk for too long. “But, it’s fun because kids really freak out,” Ignash said. “They see us coming, or they hear other people talking about us coming, and kids freak out. Its fun, just so much fun.”
credits: Frank Witsil- Detroit Free Press, Ferndale Elks Club
“a procession is a participants’ journey, while a parade is a performance with an audience.”
– Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
as we watched
the big kids perform
‘a christmas carol’
‘why is that man so mean?’
‘why is he so crabby?’
‘how can he be that mean?’
I told them that later in the play
mr. scrooge’s heart will grow
and he will learn to be nice
just like what happened to the grinch
it made my own heart grow
to think about
their naturally kind and compassionate state of being
how they could not even begin to imagine
why someone would choose to be mean.
‘i think being nice is more important than being clever.’
in our after-school art club
the children painted kindness stones
and hid them in the garden
for other children to find
knowing it would make them smile
when they discovered these secret stones
hoping they would do the same for others
passing on their surprise and joy
upon finding a bit of kindness
left just to make them happy
and then hiding them again
for others to discover.
“a little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.”
*GLOBAL DETROIT is a nonprofit regional economic development initiative that believes immigrants and refugees are critical to job creation, regional growth, and prosperity. Global Detroit is revitalizing Metro Detroit’s economy by mobilizing its immigrant potential. We are an innovator and expert in connecting international talent with regional businesses’ unmet talent needs, catalyzing the growth and development of immigrant entrepreneurs, revitalizing neighborhoods, and building a globally-competitive and inclusive region.
In addition to our local efforts, Global Detroit has spearheaded the creation of the Welcoming Economies Global Network (WE Global), a ten-state regional collaborative
of 20 peer local immigrant economic development initiatives across the Rust Belt. WE Global Network is a project of Welcoming America, run in partnership with Global Detroit.
“make a difference about something other than yourselves.”
thank you Toni Morrison, for your many inspirational words.
credits: *global detroit (image and story), WE global