Morning Buzz
BELLAIRE • MEMORIAL • RIVER OAKS • TANGLEWOOD • WEST UNIVERSITY

One-Wheel Good Time: Edmonton K-Days Parade

Click the Buzz Me button to receive email notifications when this writer publishes a new article or a new article in this column is published.
Clowns group shot

As part of a family tradition, these "clowns" participated in the K-Days Festival in Edmonton, Alberta. (Pictured, from left) Sarah Flesher, Paul Flesher, Joy Oden, Ken Flesher, Brett Flesher, Ryan Arychuck. (Squatting) Amy Oden, Kirstin Flesher, Ben Flesher, Sarah Flesher, Anya Fossen. (In front: Cam Wakefield) (Photo: Lauren Baril)

“Have you practiced your unicycle yet?” I used to say to my kids. When other mothers were standing over their children’s clarinet lessons, I was forcing mine outside to balance on one wheel. Both kids, Eric and Amy, dutifully learned and now they’re part of a family tradition, one that dates back 50 years.

I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta and my brothers and I started riding the K-Days parade in the early ’70s. When my eldest brother turned 60, his daughters decided the perfect gift was a reprise of the unicycle-riding Funky Family Clowns. My family and I have been living in Houston for 14 years, so we made the trip north to provide wobbly support.

Oden clowns

Oden clowns include (from left) Amy Oden, Joy Oden and Eric Oden. (Photo: Lauren Baril)

This parade is the kickoff to one of Edmonton’s biggest summer festivals, K-Days, formerly called Klondike Days, which was a celebration of the 1890s gold rush in the area, and it draws thousands of onlookers and a television audience of over 150,000. The route was only a mile, but for unicyclists, who must continue moving, it was three times that. (Some expert unicyclists can balance while staying still, but most have to always move so as not to fall over.)

This year, we were 12 clowns, ranging in age from 20 to 60 who converged not only from Houston, but from across Canada. My son, Eric, age 22, flew in from Maryland where he’s undertaking a Ph.D. in applied mathematics, and my daughter, Amy, age 20, arrived from Houston; she’s home between her third and fourth year at Pomona College in California. We rode around an airplane float “piloted” by my nephew, five-year-old Ryder Edwards, from Vancouver. We tooted horns, high-fived onlookers, waved and tried to stay upright. And we were all successful, except for just one or two sudden dismounts.

The parade was over all too soon and another successful ride settled into family history. We gathered in the middle of the road, recounted highlights, and laughed.

“The practice was worth it,” beamed Eric.

  • Airplane float

    Tom Flesher from Edmonton driving the airplane float, Ryder Edwards, age 5, from Vancouver waving at the top of the float. Riding clowns (from left) are Sarah Flesher from Montreal and Ken Flesher from Edmonton. (Photo: Perry Edwards)

  • Amy Oden, Ryder Edwards

    Pictured: Amy Oden, age 20, and Ryder Edwards, age 5, waiting before the parade. Ryder "piloted" the airplane float. (Photo: Perry Edwards)  

  • Downtown Edmonton

    Pictured: Ben Flesher from Edmonton, Eric Oden from Washington DC, Tom Flesher from Edmonton driving the float, Joy Oden from Houston, Anya Fossen from Edmonton and Brett Flesher of Edmonton. (Photo: Perry Edwards)

  • Brett Flesher and Sarah Flesher

    Two clowns in the middle of the parade. (From left) Brett Flesher, age 29, from Edmonton and Sarah Flesher, age 30, from Montreal. (Photo: Lauren Baril)

  • Riding

    (From left) Kirstin Flesher from Salt Lake City, Ben Flesher from Edmonton, Eric Oden from Washington DC, Hillary Flesher from Edmonton, Anya Fossen from Edmonton, Brett Flesher from Edmonton, Amy Oden from Houston and Joy Oden from Houston. (Photo: Perry Edwards)

     

  • Ken Flesher

    Ken Flesher, whose 60th birthday brought the family together riding unicycles. (Photo: Lauren Baril) 

     

  • Airplane float
  • Amy Oden, Ryder Edwards
  • Downtown Edmonton
  • Brett Flesher and Sarah Flesher
  • Riding
  • Ken Flesher

Airplane float

Tom Flesher from Edmonton driving the airplane float, Ryder Edwards, age 5, from Vancouver waving at the top of the float. Riding clowns (from left) are Sarah Flesher from Montreal and Ken Flesher from Edmonton. (Photo: Perry Edwards)

Amy Oden, Ryder Edwards

Pictured: Amy Oden, age 20, and Ryder Edwards, age 5, waiting before the parade. Ryder "piloted" the airplane float. (Photo: Perry Edwards)  

Downtown Edmonton

Pictured: Ben Flesher from Edmonton, Eric Oden from Washington DC, Tom Flesher from Edmonton driving the float, Joy Oden from Houston, Anya Fossen from Edmonton and Brett Flesher of Edmonton. (Photo: Perry Edwards)

Brett Flesher and Sarah Flesher

Two clowns in the middle of the parade. (From left) Brett Flesher, age 29, from Edmonton and Sarah Flesher, age 30, from Montreal. (Photo: Lauren Baril)

Riding

(From left) Kirstin Flesher from Salt Lake City, Ben Flesher from Edmonton, Eric Oden from Washington DC, Hillary Flesher from Edmonton, Anya Fossen from Edmonton, Brett Flesher from Edmonton, Amy Oden from Houston and Joy Oden from Houston. (Photo: Perry Edwards)

 

Ken Flesher

Ken Flesher, whose 60th birthday brought the family together riding unicycles. (Photo: Lauren Baril) 

 

To leave a comment, please log in or create an account with The Buzz Magazines, Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Or you may post as a guest.