"There'll be dragons" I told TLM, hoping to excite her.
"I don't like dragons!" she answered, "they're scary!"
"Okay, there won't be any dragons" I replied, "but there might be free popsicles."
So TLM came willingly with me to watch the Chinese New Year parade.
It was hot (actually, only 25 degrees Celsius, but for this town it counts as a heatwave) and sunny. It was just the kind of weather that entices you to the outdoors, only to send you scurrying for the SPF 30 sunblock and a hat with a brim wide enough to support a pond-full of large frogs.
It was just the kind of burn-y hotness that made me anxious about the amount of time TLM and I were spending on the uncovered footpath, waiting for it to start.
Finally, we heard the distant crackling of what sounded like exploding Double Happies, and saw the glimmer of a long, sinuous dragan winding its way towards us in a cloud of firecracker smoke. TLM's face was alight with anticipation.
Then it got closer, louder and smokier. I tried to cover TLM's ears with my free hand (the other was holding her), but it had to divide its time between one of her ears and one of mine. Totally fruitless. TLM turned her face away from the spectacle and whimpered something about going back to the car. She'd forgotten that we'd taken the bus to get there.
The men under the dragon raised it up and down and wove in and out of legs, prompting me to wish I'd shaved my legs that morning.
But then TLM's mood changed. It was when some children from the Chinese language school passed by with more petite versions of the smoking dragon. I told her they were baby dragons and she chuckled delightedly.
There was more - Chinese opera performers with their faces made up in pink and white, drummers, men and women posing in beautiful traditional silk robes, a team of kung-fu exponents demonstrating whatever you call the kung fu equivalent of a kata, little girls in pretty red dresses (not sure of the relevance but they seemed a welcome part of the parade) and even Michael Tuffery's ox made entirely out of corned beef tins (click here and scroll down for a picture - actually the article is bloody hilarious!). The latter was present because it's the Year of the Ox, but what made it even more special for us was that we still have the children's library book of New Zealand art which features this very sculpture. But there were no free popsicles.
As I was saying, there was more, but as far as TLM was concerned, the baby dragons were it.