i locked the bike to a signpost and began looking for a good spot. i normally stand along the outer bend of tremont and berkeley street, but was hoping to find a new vantage point. the bend is a good spot, but there's too much jostling for position once the parade starts. i then found the perfect spot: on top of a large utility cabinet along the side of the street. i wouldn't be able to mingle with the crowd or follow the parade to track subjects, but the height advantage gave me an unobstructed view of the parade path.
there was plenty more room on top of the box, and soon a father and his young daughter took position along side me after asking if the spots were taken. he bore a striking resemblance to john tesh, and at one point a total stranger stopped in front of us to take his photo without asking then thanked him. john tesh lookalike lives in the south end but never been to one of these parades before. he tried making some more chit chat but we never got any conversation started. i was just waiting for the parade to begin so i can start shooting, warily checking the increasingly darkening sky.
the pride parade always starts on time (12:00), unlike most other parades i've seen (the boston caribbean parade is notoriously late). i was behind schedule by a couple of minutes last year and had already missed all the bikers riding by. it's hard to believe this is my 8th time (my first back in 2003). some of it has gotten stale, like the cavalcade of politicians and church groups, but somehow now it wouldn't seem like a pride parade without them. the corporations are also a necessary evil i suppose, but they're usually the ones with the more organized and showy convoys, and you can always took to them for free stuff, whether beads, tote bags, t-shirts, keychains, stickers, whistles, squeeze balls, etc.
the father-daughter sitting next to me had a rainbow banner on a stick they were waving around, creating intermittent blockage of colors in my shots. here i was with this perfect shooting position, only to be ruined by a display of pride support. i was getting ready to stand up on the utility box so i could have a less obstructed view, when the daughter soon decided she had enough of the banner and asked her father to lower her down so she could watch from the street level. disaster adverted!
immediately a week after the boston pride parade is the mermaid parade at coney island in new york, which is a much more spectacular exhibition of eye candy. i use the boston parade more as practice, working on my photo capturing techniques, playing around to get the optimal settings. the night before i spent some time cleaning out the CCD sensor after the dust spots have started to become more noticeable. i've always heard that photographers prefer a grey day to take photos. i used to think that was weird, but now i sort of agree. as great as a nice sunny day would be for a parade, the sun casts too strong a shadow and subjects are either very well-lit or in the dark. with a grey day, the light is the same all around, so you don't have to worry about shadows. the only problem with a grey day is sometimes it brings rain, and that's exactly what happened today. the last time i checked the weather, the rain wouldn't arrive until mid to late afternoon. but as the parade went on, a few rain drops became a sprinkle, a sprinkle into a drizzle, and a drizzle into a heavier drizzle. it was never a downpour, and if you had some coverage (a tree, an awning) you'd stay dry, but rain and parades don't mix (although they still do sometimes), and i think this year's turnout might be a bit lower due to the weather.
since i was up on my high perch, i didn't pick up any beads except for one strand. the little girl managed a more sizable haul, as well as enough candy to fill a halloween pumpkin. the father-daughter didn't stick around for too long long, leaving at the halfway mark. the only other person on the box was an old man with a beard; we nodded to each other cordially.
the rain was falling heavy enough at one point that i had to take out the umbrella. i didn't mind getting wet, but i didn't want the camera to get soaked. the rain then subsided enough to put my umbrella away. it was still sprinkling, but easier to take photos with two free hands than having to hold an umbrella. later, towards the end of the parade, the rain started up again, and i had to go back to umbrella shooting.
when i returned to my bike i noticed somebody had tossed an empty water bottle into my milk crate. i pedaled to the nearby c-mart (formerly super 88) on the corner of herald and washington street. the place was packed with chinese shoppers picking up supplies for the duanwu festival. i was there to get some zongzi sauce. from there i traversed chinatown and through the empty streets of the financial district to haymarket. grapes, strawberries, and cherries were all on sale. i bought a few boxes of cherries ($1/lb box) and strawberries ($1/2 containers).
the pride parade ended at city hall with a live free concert. i checked it out but left soon afterwards. somebody had thrown an empty cigarette box into my milk crate.
i returned via cambridge street, back across the longfellow bridge. the sky was still overcast, but the rain seemed to be holding back, for now at least. after dropping off some stuff at home, i made my way to belmont.
we had tacos for dinner. since it started to rain again, i left my bike and borrowed the car to get back home.