Sticking His Neck Out

Sticking His Neck Out

What's a tree-lighting ceremony without a...giraffe? You thought I was going to say Santa. This weekend's bungled wild animal appearance in Marion Square was a waste of taxpayer dollars, and confusing

Swept under the rug, it was… the long, tall snafu at this past weekend’s hoopla fa-la-la lighting of the faux BAT (Big-Ass Tree) in Marion Square. And it ain’t easy to sweep a giraffe under the rug. Yet not one word about said giraffe in the P&C and only a dark amateur video posted to Channel 4’s website.


But there he was, a gorgeous, lanky beast, trucked in from who-knows-where to be the centerpiece of a rather lame lead-in narrative, the purpose of which was to introduce the real star of the show—Santa. Thousands of restless kids and their good-sport parents had been waiting in Marion Square’s growing dark. They waited, and waited some more, for Santa’s arrival. The Kettle Korn Guy was the only one glad for the hour and a half of stall tactics, which included numerous performances of community musicians and dancers and Robert Ivey Ballet’s trotting out of Peter and the Wolf. Again. And finally, when it was long past time for Santa to flick on the massive lit cone we call a tree, Mayor Riley launched into this silly story about Santa not being able to make it because he’d lost his favorite giraffe.


I was sure the Mayor was going to say Santa couldn’t come because I-526 was not completed.


And so the poor Christmas giraffe was led from his cramped truck into the incredibly crowded Square, and he proceeded to do what any reasonable wild animal would do when encountering a huge herd of wiggling, wild children, grown-ups wearing blinking red noses and two loud confetti canons.


He bucked and kicked and expressed his displeasure at being someplace he did not belong. He endangered children, and himself, and so was gently subdued and led back to his 18-wheeler ark. The two small zebras that flanked him kicked and huffed as well, but finally made it around the stage, although only the kids on the very first row (i.e. maybe 50 out of approximately 2,000 people gathered) could see them.


And here’s the thing: the giraffe was not only a total waste of taxpayer dollars, a really bad idea, and an obvious example of animal abuse, the poor thing was totally unnecessary. The kids didn’t want some ridiculous, long-winded tale about Santa losing his giraffe, nor did they want a giraffe; they wanted Santa. And tree lights with their unfailing twinkling magic. That’s all.


So the moral of this year’s Christmas tale? KISS Riley, or “Keep it Simple Santa Riley.” Don’t bring in big things where they are not needed. Don’t force a giraffe into a place where he doesn’t fit (or force an interstate into a rural landscape where it does not belong and is not really needed). When mammals are bucking and kicking, back off. There’s usually a good reason. Santa will find his way without all the rigmarole, and sure as hell without more unnecessary asphalt. I just hope you do as well.