Every year, Port Huron throws a week-long celebration aptly named the Blue Water Festival. The carnival sets up downtown, there are fireworks every night, the International Day Parade is on Wednesday, the Mackinac Sailboat Race Party is all day & night on Friday and the start of the sailboat race on Saturday morning officially ends the week of celebration. My point is that the parade was a very big deal. It runs through the heart of town and was attended by over 100,000 people.
The organizers of the parade needed quite a few convertibles to drive some beauty queens and elected officials in the parade so they could wave at the crowds. They asked if any employees of the City of Port Huron owned convertibles and if they would be willing to donate their time and car to a good cause. You bet. I stepped up to the plate without hesitation.
On the day of the parade, I showed up with my spotless Porsche 914. The chrome was polished and the tires were glossed with ArmorAll. The roof was packed away and the targa roof support made a perfect bench seat for the beauty queen to sit upon. She was probably Miss Saint Clair County or something like that. She stepped in, sat on the targa roof support and I drove us into the line up.
Ahead of us, and behind us, were marching bands, fire engines, Shriners on mini-bikes, veterans in formation, baton twirlers, clowns, and other convertibles. We waited for our cue and entered the parade at a snail’s pace. The beauty queen in my car waved at the crowds. She was a natural.
About a minute into the parade, I rolled up the passenger and the driver windows. My windows were operated by hand cranks, so I had to lean across the woman’s white-fluffy gown to roll up the passenger window.
“What are you doing?” she said through clenched teeth and a fake smile.
She seemed pissed, but I didn’t care—I had a car to sell. A “For Sale” sign was taped to each window with my telephone number printed in bold type. The International Day Parade was now my private used car sales lot and I was quite pleased with myself. For the next hour, my car was exposed to thousands of spectators. Surely one of them, I thought, would like to buy my Porsche. And I was right. The calls came in that same day.
But there was hell to pay the next day. I was called into the City Manager’s office. My boss, Mr. Bouchard, and two people from the parade organization were waiting for me. They glared at me. So did Mr. Bouchard. He was furious.
“The International Day Parade is not your private used car lot!” he said in a calm and controlled manner.
It seems the parade officials were livid about my blatant use of the parade to sell my car and they were demanding my head. In the end, a heart-felt and sincere apology did the trick. (George Burns once said, ‘The secret to success is sincerity; once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.’ but I digress.)
I was allowed to keep my job.
And, for what it’s worth, my “For Sale” signs worked. I had so many calls on my answering machine that week that the tape ran out. That didn’t matter—the car was sold to one of the first callers.