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by Diane Richard

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I hate a parade. Always have.

As a kid, I would watch the Fourth of July parade in my hometown of Evanston, Illinois, from the top of the five and dime until the sun boiled my brains and I threw up.

So imagine my dismay to find that my new hometown, Minneapolis, takes extraordinary pride in its parades.

Especially the Holidazzle.

Yes, a winter parade in bonechilling Minnesota. The Holidazzle takes place five nights a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Families bundle up the kids in mountains of polar fleece, and plant themselves curbside, no matter the weather. Coffee and cider are sipped. Noses drip. The floats - a hodgepodge that runs from the Nutcracker to the Old Woman in a Shoe - are sparkling, twinkling grotesque affairs. Alice in Wonderland seemed to be freezing her pinafore off.

Still, the Holidazzle is a delight to many. To me, it's as delightful as frost bite.

God in Your Own Image
by Tatiana Harrison

I might have known better than to go to a pena, the Peruvian show that promises a night of "traditional" entertainment. I certainly wasn't prepared for the pleading I had to do to get them to play "Navidad Negra."

"That's a SAD song," they say. "People come here to dance!" Finally, I use my worst gringo accent on Pepe Vasquez, a famous Afro-Peruvian singer. He agrees.

So I patiently suffer a series of embarrassing numbers. Pepe teaches the demure blonde to bump and grind. The cook is called out to dance and just as quickly disappears.

But Pepe's face turns serious as he finally begins to sing of a baby Jesus born among the blacks.

Waiters circulate as Pepe cautions baby Jesus not to come down from his altar, lest he get whipped by his master. The cajon, a plywood box, keeps time, as Pepe sings that the black face of the baby Jesus was the only comfort in slavery...

Listening to Pepe, it seems to me that even though the Bible says God created man in his own image, what you see when you travel is it's the other way around.

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