Today is our last day in Orlando, and another focal point of the trip – the Citrus Parade. Because we are leaving town immediately after the parade, it made for a busy morning at our house. The cars were packed and we were out the door a little after 9. We wanted to be in place by 10am for the 11am parade.
Due to a huge slowdown on the interstate, we re-routed to one of Florida’s best kept secrets (sarcasm), their toll roads. We probably spent at least $7 on tolls on our 60 minute drive to downtown Orlando. Florida has a unique way of positioning their toll booths. They like them close together. At times, we would not drive more than three miles without needing to stop and pay more tolls. This was the same experience on our way to the Kennedy Space Center yesterday. It’s hard to make good time when you’re stopping at toll booths every three miles!
We did make it downtown and essentially stopped at the first corner we came to that was on the parade route, the corner of Central and Orange. I was visiting with the lady beside me and she said it was a good spot to watch the parade, as they watch from right here every year. I soon realized her name was Barbara, and she was a wonder woman.
Barbara was 77 and not afraid to tell you. She used to be a twirler in the Florida State band, and still goes back every year and twirls at Homecoming. FSU gets 500 band alumni on the field at Homecoming! Wow! Once Barbara found out where we were from, she told me that when she got out of high school, she was offered a band scholarship by Oklahoma University as a twirler and would have been the band’s first female member. Up until that point it had been an all male band. She decided that would be too far away from home for her, and went to FSU. Glad we got to meet you, Barbara!
The Citrus Parade is best told with pictures, so here you go.
Because the Citrus Parade has a route that forms a U, as soon as our band went by, we walked a few short blocks over to the east and got to watch the parade a second time. Every parade should work like this. It was great to be able to cheer the band on twice.
Stephanie, Marissa and I followed the band down the sidewalk to the end, while the rest of our gang had to make a final swing back by the house. So we departed ways with them and will meet up again in New Orleans tomorrow.
Once Miles had completed his band duties and changed clothes, we collected him at the buses and was on the road a little after 1:30. Thank you for everything, Orlando!
The goal of Stephanie, Miles, Marissa and was to travel all the way to New Orleans where we would spend the next few nights with our friends, David and Kay. At 11pm, we pulled into their driveway. Mission Accomplished. Our only excitement was stopping for a quick bite in Mobile, Alabama. As soon as we got out of the car (tastefully covered in OSU magnets), a couple of guys in the parking lot started yelling “Hotty Toddy” at us, the Ole Miss cheer. I’m glad we could get this little rivalry started several states away from the Sugar Bowl.
The rest of our group took a more leisurely time. They are staying in the Florida panhandle overnight and will drive into New Orleans tomorrow. On their way, Scott, Erin and Grandma Mary stopped in Gainesville to visit the Florida University campus.
Scott’s report: It was an intimate campus and stadium. That’s close together for 88,000 people. Lots of mossy trees all over campus. I sat down for several minutes in the stadium. It was cool. Lots of people in there running stadium steps.
Thank you, Florida, for keeping the doors open to the stadium. We know we will find the same hospitality from New Orleans for the next few days.
Mallory got to spend the remainder of her day at Disney Studios with her friends, and will ride home with the band in a few days. Mallory’s Best Hits from today are below.
Try to have fun without us Mallory! And we’ll do the same.