Iowa Lions know how to balance fun and service. The mammoth Lions parade on State Street in the heart of downtown Chicago took more than five hours. It included 26,868 Lions from 83 nations, 25 marching bands and innumerable moments of levity and camaraderie, as marchers waved, shook hands and gave the thumbs-up sign to throngs of spectators. “I’ve worked parades, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” said a uniformed traffic official stationed near Madison Street. Indeed, what else in the world can compare to a Lions parade at international convention—what other group can claim such a widespread membership and turnout on the streets? “I think this is the one organization in the world like this. Maybe the Red Cross? I don’t know,” said Susan Skinner- Roy, a teacher who traveled from Madison, Wisconsin, to watch the parade. She collects school supplies for Lions and contributes to club projects in other ways, but the main reason she came to Chicago was to cheer on her marching parents, Selwyn and Huldah Skinner of the Kissimmee Lions Club in Florida. The noise along the parade route at times was cacophonous, but Skinner was certain her parents would spot her. “I’ll yell. My daddy always hears me,” she said. Lions from China show pride in their nation. The parade was a spectacle of sights and sounds. Scandinavian Lions, dressed in old-fashioned ethnic garb, marched smartly in neat lines and sang their ear-worm song: “oh-lahdee, oh-lah-dah/ha, ha, ha.” Iowa Lions wheeled in loops around the Loop on a bicycle-built-for-10. Australian Lions pulled their towering inflatable kangaroo, and row upon row of Chinese Lions strolled behind their pouncing, lurching dragons. Everyone loved this parade, especially Past District Governor Kevin and Kay Adams of Monticello, Iowa, whose presence demonstrated that Lions’ personal lives often are inextricably tied to their Lions’ identity. The Lions couple marched with the Iowa delegation. A half century ago they paraded down the streets of Chicago with their Monticello high school band at the 50th International Convention. Always out and about as zone chairperson, Janis Marcinkowski of Alaska does not live in a bubble. A Peru Lion spreads her wings. In 1967, parade officials warned the Iowa band not to march in cadence but instead to gently walk over a lessthan- solid bridge. “We saw that bridge, off in the distance,” said Kevin. “Last time we had to pay attention to our music. This time we paid attention to the crowd,” added Kevin. “I’m involved with Lions maybe more so than most. So it meant a lot to me. It was cool, interesting.” Kay wore on her hat the band parade ribbon from 1967. It was her birthday, too, and the Lions of Iowa sang to her before the parade began. “I’ve marched in other Lions’ parades, and my husband was a DG. So this time the focus was more on me,” said Kay with a smile. Such a moment won’t come again for them. “I don’t think we’ll make the 150th!”
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