We're Gonna Miss You This Year, Children's Medical Center Holiday Parade.

Dear Children's Medical Center Holiday Parade,

How are you doing today? I imagine you're a lot less busy than you expected to be, what with you — and the Dallas Marathon, for that matter — having to cancel your event for the first time in your 26-year history and all, just because of some weather.

As you surely are, I'm also pretty bummed about the cancellation. It's totally harshing my snow-down buzz.

Anyway, I figured you we both could use a pick-me-up. So, as a bit of a consolation — however small — I figured I'd tell the world about this one time when you, my brother and I had such a great time together.

As you know, my brother had to spend a lot of time at Children's when he was a kid. It was a struggle, for sure, but he did get some pretty sweet perks, like annual trips to summer camp and an invitation from you to ride in the parade one December.

It was so cool, too. He got to ride in a convertible with a beloved children's book character (The Stinky Cheese Man) and two Texas Rangers (Mark McLemore and Lee Stevens).

For him, those Rangers were the best part. My brother's a huge baseball fan and, if you looked deeply enough in his closet, you'd probably still be able to find the Santa hat he got those players to sign when their shared parade ride was over.

Anyway, the point is, you made sure that he felt special — just as you've done for countless other kids throughout your history.

Here's the thing, though: That was only the preamble to one of the most surreal experiences I've ever had. After the parade was over, you invited my family to come back to the not-so-dearly missed Planet Hollywood in the West End. For a couple of kids like me and my brother, that was awesome in and of itself. I mean, how often do you get to eat nearly Hard Rock Cafe-level food and see the bullet hole-riddled car from Arthur Penn's Bonnie Clyde in the same afternoon, much less in the same building? Not often.

And, kidding aside, it was pretty cool. There was a buffet full of junk food and all the soda we could drink. Nothing else really mattered.

So why was it surreal?

That would be because of some of our fellow invitees to that after-party: a group of chipper volunteers clearly identifiable as Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. They were in their full Sunday best, which, in a room that had a distinct “kid's birthday party” feel, was just deeply weird. They posed for pictures and cheerily provided autographed photos, which my brother and I eagerly snapped up.

Much to our chagrin, our mom “misplaced” them soon after we got home. But that wasn't your fault.

To this day, the whole experience is one of my — and my brother's — fondest Dallas memories. And I've got you to thank for the whole thing.

So, thanks for the joy you bring to Dallas each year.

We know you'll be back — and better than ever — next December. Weather permitting, of course.

Yours truly,
Stephen Young and the rest of the Central Track Staff

Cover photo via the Children's Medical Center Holiday Parade site.

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