Tonight was the annual Athens Christmas parade, also known as (by a friend of mine, anyway) “Athens Annual Let’s Do Weird Shit Day”. I’ve been regaled for years with tales of the strangeness at this parade, ranging from “Rotisserie Jesus” (a bloody live human Jesus on a spinning cross) to last year’s hippy who thought it would be a good idea to use a roadkill great horned owl as a hand puppet and thrust it in the faces of kids lined up along the route.

I’ve never been able to see it, myself. For the last twenty years I ran Athens Locally Grown, a weekly farmers Thursday farmers market that always conflicted. I closed it at the end of last year, though, so this year I was free to go. The theme was “An Out of this World Holiday” and the grand marshal was a local amateur astronomer known as “Mr. Science” for all the outreach educational events he’s done over the years. Already, it was the best Christmas parade I’ve ever been to.

At least a third of the floats were from churches with questionable relations to the theme. The best was the Unitarians with a pickup they converted to the USS Enterprise pulling a trailer proclaiming they were “embracing Star Trek values Logic Science Dignity Equality Equity” and a whole group of walkers wearing various eras of star fleet uniforms. The Catholics had a large tiki lounge as their float. The local klezmer band had both a giant dreidel and a Jewish space laser.

A bra store had a small float proclaiming “Every body is a celestial body” and a large bra on a pole covered with lights, ready to guide magi.

My favorite float (and winner of Best In Show) was from a local Montessori-ish STEAM school. They made a post-apocalyptic cabin populated with survivors and followed by a number of different creatures, including a dancing Chinese dragon only it was a “Santapede”.

And yeah, the controversial fundamentalist church had a smiling bloody Jesus hanging from a cross under models of the planets. Ho ho ho!