April 7, 2009
When you think about it, what better way to celebrate Easter than a parade? After all, Easter itself started out with a rather colorful (especially if you’re into crimson) parade up the Via Dolorosa. There weren’t any huge inflatable cartoon characters, floats made of roses, or insightful commentary by Kathie Lee Gifford, but credit the Romans for at least having a flair for spectacle. It would have been easy enough to just let the Pharisees take Jesus out back and stone him to death, but Pontius Pilate needed to set an example lest some other blissed out upstart from the provinces ride into town on an ass and start flapping his jaws about being the son of God. Regardless of all the arm-twisting by the townies, Pilate was smart enough to know that Caesar didn’t keep gold rims on his chariot by letting his tax base erode, so he gave Jesus the thumbs down. Were it not for the money, he might have let Jesus off with just a scourging. That would have spoiled the whole resurrection and in turn undermined the foundation of Christian faith. It’s unlikely God would have resurrected Jesus for a simple scourging – well, maybe if they had whipped him to death like Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter – but then Jesus would have had to come back from the dead in a vengeful, whiskey-drinking, ass-kicking, date-raping mood. He would have appointed the town midget as sheriff and insisted that the Pharisees paint Jerusalem red. Not being Jewish himself however, Pontius didn’t have full buy-in with the Pharisees. Like any smart politician, he chose a solution that buttered his bread, and Christianity was saved. Plus, being Easter and all, the weather was probably perfect for outdoor activities. Thus, Jesus began his slow, torturous slog toward Golgotha. Slow indeed. No doubt he lacked motivation. It’s hard to keep a spring in your step when you know the journey ends with having your feet nailed to a plank. Jesus took his time. He talked with his mother. He had his face wiped by Veronica. He comforted the ladies. He stumbled a few times. All in all, he dragged out the spectacle to a memorable extreme – Godlike even. Turned out to be a win-win situation for Romans and Jews and eventually Christians, too. Apparently, parades are a good way to promote your cause. The Animal Trustees of Austin certainly feel that way. This Saturday, along with Jo’s on South Congress and Hotel San José, they’re hosting the Lyndon Lambert Memorial Easter Pet Parade Costume Contest. To cut to the chase: It’s a parade of pets in costumes. Who couldn’t get behind that? The parade begins at noon, starts at Annie and South Congress and ends at Jo’s. Prizes will be awarded for best-dressed pets. If you dress your Shih Tzu in a blood-splattered loincloth and place a crown of thorns on his head and an old rugged cross on his back, you might capture the spirit of Easter, but don’t count on winning any prizes. You dog will probably hate you too, but that was probably going to happen anyway.