In which there is a new NaNoWriMo chapter, with naked ladies!

June 30, 2011 Skookum Tribune issue number whatever, volume whatever
Meet: The Godiva Riders
By Annabeth Spencer

Like a lot of small towns in America, Skookum hosts many annual parades. There are patriotic parades, like the Fourth of July Parade and the Veteran’s Day Parade. There are seasonal parades, like the Blossomtime Parade in May, and the Turkey Trot Parade in November, and the Jingle Bell Parade in December.

Lots of towns have parades featuring floats built by the Rotary and the Elks, marching bands from the local high schools, clowns and shiny cars and the local equivalent of the Dairy Princesses standing in glamorous gowns on top of fire trucks tossing candy to bystanders.

Only in Skookum is there a parade consisting entirely of naked ladies on horses and bicycles.

The Godiva Parade tradition started more than ten years ago, when then-mayor Robin Redstone was having dinner with a bunch of friends from college. The dinner wasn’t formal, just a salmon barbeque cooked up by one of the roommates and her spouse, and so the guests wandered around the beautifully landscaped backyard with their plates, chatting with old friends and new acquaintances. The conversation turned to fundraisers, and the husband of another of the roommates told a few people standing nearby that he didn’t mind giving money to charity, but he wished for once that the groups would come up with an original fundraiser.

The husband is a Microsoft millionaire, one of that large handful of folks in our region who “called in rich” to his office one day back in the mid-1990’s, and has been living off the proceeds and investments ever since. He is well-known as a generous supporter of the arts, education, and local charities. And yet, he said, it gets boring after a while, attending the same old dinners, dances, charity auctions and parties. He wanted to continue supporting charities that are important to his friends and neighbors, but he wanted to see groups put a little more originality into their events.

“Like what?” asked Robin, who had recently had cause to become interested in research and treatment for breast cancer.

“I don’t know,” replied the man. “See if you can invent something that I’ve never seen, and I’ll throw some money at it.”

The conversation, Robin Redstone remembers, turned to other things: books that people were reading, movies they had seen. And then, dessert was served: a rich, gooey, delicious dark chocolate cake, served with home-made vanilla ice cream and topped with melted Godiva chocolate.

The name of the chocolate combined with Robin's earlier conversation with the Microsoft millionaire to create a crazy idea. She recalls finishing her dessert and then finding the man and his wife to propose her idea for a fundraiser that would be the most unusual event he’d ever heard of: a couple of breast cancer patients, plus maybe a couple of their female friends and family members riding horses in a parade through the middle of town.

Naked.

“It got his attention, that’s for sure!” she laughs in recollection.

Robin thought that there might be three or four other women, horseback riders all, who had been through chemo and radiation treatment, and who might be interested in doing the ride to raise money for research. In keeping with the traditional Lady Godiva story, Robin planned to spread the word about the event, asking men and boys to stay off of the parade route. She was unprepared for the response:

“I thought that there would be a lot of people who would want me to resign as mayor for proposing a stunt like this, and that there might be people who would boycott my restaurant business in protest. I thought that at the very least, I’d get an earful from my mom.

“Instead, I started getting emails, phone messages, letters. Women would stop me in the street. They came into the restaurant. They weren’t angry. They wanted to know how they could help.”

The Skookum Tribune reports that the first Godiva Ride was held on Sunday morning, August 8th, 1999.

Roadblocks were set up, operated by teams of off-duty female police officers from every agency in the county. At daybreak on the morning of the event, trucks pulling horse trailers converged on the Food4Less parking lot, which had been volunteered as the staging ground for the parade start.
Organizers directed the biggest rigs to form a protective circle around the perimeter of the parking lot. Inside the wall of trucks and horse trailers, women and girls from the Skookum High School drama department and the Pilchuck Theatre Guilde offered free body painting to participants.

The thirty women riding in the parade were encouraged to wear helmets and boots in the interest of safety, plus paint, glitter and sunscreen…but nothing else.
Women who wanted to watch the parade were given the option to remain clothed, and a few did. They each paid an admission fee, and promised not to take photos of any part of the event, whether they were riding in the parade or standing on the sidewalks to watch. Many women reportedly donated much more than the twenty dollars admission charge requested by event organizers.

At promptly ten a.m., the ladies mounted up. They were young and old. Some were saggy, some were wrinkled. Many bore surgery scars, or had heads still-bald from treatment.

All were naked.

All were smiling.

The circular route had been evacuated by request of the mayor, who rode at the head of the parade. Only the women and girls who were part of the event lined the streets to cheer and clap as painted, waving, smiling naked ladies rode their beloved horses through town. At the end of the parade back at the Food4Less parking lot, horses were tied to trailers and the party continued with impromptu music and food provided by parade participants.

At noon, when the parade was scheduled to disperse, the women got dressed and opened the circle of rigs to invite the men and boys of their families inside to join the festivities. As a result, the party lasted most of the afternoon, and the “donate here” jar was passed through the crowd, accumulating even more cash.
People couldn't wait to do it again the following year.

In 2001, a contingent of non-horse riders asked to ride in the parade on bicycles. Robin agreed, thinking that this would allow even more women to be part of the event. The bicyclers brought even more friends and relations with them to line the parade route and to dance to the music at the party afterwards.

The Annual Godiva Ride for Breast Cancer Research has grown from thirty women on horseback in 1999 to a crowd of nearly two hundred women on horses and bicycles, plus nearly nine hundred spectators to watch the parade in 2010. The post-parade party as well as the start and finish line of the parade route have been moved to the Pilchuck County Fairgrounds to accommodate the crowd of more than two thousand friends of the Godiva Riders. Live music is now part of the event, with performances donated by several local bluegrass and rock-and-roll bands.

The Godiva Parade has become an annual community tradition, held each year on the second Sunday of August. The Microsoft millionaire has continued to support the Godiva Riders as well. He donated ten thousand dollars to breast cancer research in 1999, and an additional ten thousand dollars each year since then. Donations by participants and spectators (and their families) nearly double that amount. Parade award ribbons, adorned with the figure of a nude woman riding a prancing horse, are given annually to the oldest rider on a horse or bicycle, the youngest rider, the best-decorated horse, the best-decorated bicycle, and the best-decorated naked lady.
2011 entry forms for riders and spectators will be published in the Skookum Tribune during the month of July. Vendors and artisans wishing to participate in the after-parade party at the fairgrounds may contact Robin Redstone at the Red Robin Café in downtown Skookum for more information.

Comments

  1. Hahah, cute! Gives me the heebie-jeebies though - itchy! Maybe it's just the ladies that are naked, not the horses?

    wv: rears :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your book gets more and more interesting! (You're stuck now, you have to keep writing if you don't want to hear me whine, beg, and plead.) LOVE the Godiva parade. Now we just have to get the Godiva company on board...
    and make it happen!
    :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sign me up! What a great idea. Maybe you should organize something like this?

    ~Lisa

    ReplyDelete

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