COMMENTARY

Never pass up an adventure

My friends and I rolled down the streets of Cincinnati with the opening day baseball on a surreal adventure Monday.
My friends and I rolled down the streets of Cincinnati with the opening day baseball on a surreal adventure Monday.
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CINCINNATI (KT) - Sometimes you do things for the sake of the adventure. It’s better to not think logically about it, or consider what could go wrong or ask yourself: Does this even make sense?


Just react. Especially react during a time when life doesn’t seem so normal. The coronavirus has us by the throat again, just when we were ready to take a deep breath. But it shouldn’t take away everything. Especially adventures.


When a friend called me last week with a plan that seemed cooked up by the “Hardy Boys,” I never hesitated or doubted him. “Yes,” I told him. “I’ll go.”


So the scheme was hatched. We would be driving up to Cincinnati for the smallest Findlay Market Opening Day Parade in its 101-year-old history at the invitation of one of the parade organizers. My friend has a golf cart that is tricked out in Reds’ highlights. It’s a rolling Reds’ museum. The organizer knew about it because my friend had it in the parade previously along with several students from Ashland Middle School, which helped him build it as a STEM project.


The golf cart is cool and the apple of any Reds’ fans eye. Everybody does a double-take when they see it. He knew my history with the Reds as a lifelong fan. One of my favorite moments as a sportswriter was covering the 1990 World Series – the last one the Reds won 30 years ago this year – and my love affair with the Reds goes back more than 50 years.


The plan was to leave early Monday morning, drive to Findlay Market and take the opening day baseball to Great American Ball Park. We didn’t know if we were driving it into the stadium or dropping it off somewhere. We followed a police car and we had a firetruck behind us blaring its horn. We were the centerpiece of the tiny parade. I dubbed us as the “grand marshals” during a Facebook Live narrative through town that was as much giddy as serious.  It was a surreal moment.


It felt good to laugh, to smile, to live. Even wearing masks, those worries left us. No political statements were trying to be made. It was only baseball. That’s why we came.


My friend invited his nephew along for the ride and he carried the baseball on the bumper seat of the golf cart. All three of us will be talking about this day for a long time.


It’d have been easy to say no thanks to what could have been a half-baked trip to Cincinnati that was going to require a vacation day. We also didn’t know if it was going to rain, and then there was the fact that we had to be there at 9 a.m. That meant an early 5:15 start from Ashland. Rise and shine! And there’s, of course, the fast-spreading coronavirus to consider. We donned our masks and went for it.


It was pure pleasure. A joy ride of the nth degree. It was abnormal but seemed perfectly normal. The sky was bright blue, the temperature perfect. It'd have been a great day for baseball.


After barreling into morning traffic as we neared downtown, it became clear we weren’t going to arrive when they wanted. My friend made a quick call and told them we were on the way. We found our destination – about 20 minutes late – and everybody was patiently waiting. Everybody was so nice. They were waiting on us!


We unloaded the golf cart from my friend’s truck and bolted down the 50-pound fiberglass Reds cap that sat atop it, snapped on the hubcabs and tied down the American flags to it as news cameras rolled.


We rode through the downtown streets and waved at those coming out of businesses and homes to acknowledge the mini-parade. There were lots of “GO REDS!” cheers. They hadn’t announced the parade was taking place but did have the blessing of the City and even the governor of Ohio to have this low-key parade and keep the streak going. The “crowd” was small but their hearts were warmed too.


When we arrived at the stadium, the parade organizer grabbed the ball from my friend’s 10-year-old nephew and presented it to Rosie Red, a lovable mascot who was waiting on the outside of GABP. She clutched the ball with her oversized hand that had four fingers and posed for some photos. My friend later talked her into giving the baseball to his nephew.


Bringing home the ball we cradled for a couple dozen blocks made the perfect ending to our adventure.


It was nice to be living again. I highly recommend it.


MARK MAYNARD is managing editor of Kentucky Today. Reach him at mark.maynard@kentuckytoday.com

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