December 10, 2017

Spreading Christmas Cheer One Parade at a Time

This Christmas season, I wanted to spread the Christmas joy by participating in a variety of parades around the state. Overall, I had nine parades scheduled, ranging from Milwaukee, to River Falls and all the way up to Ashland!

When my family, the Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen Organization and I were planning the parades, we knew we wanted to go big! As a local titleholder, I had a light up dress sewn by my mom and rode in the back of our pick-up truck while performing my electric violin. This year, we took it to the extreme. My costume was a jacket with a skirt attached that had lights sewn in. Thankfully, it was battery powered! I was able to move around easily, and with three layers of fleece leggings on, I was able to stay warm.

The next step was constructing the float. My family and I took some of the decorations that we use around our home and placed them on the trailer. We used white shower curtains to create a snow illusion. We also placed trees in flower pots and other decorations on milk crates to raise them up. We knew it had to be easy to take down and put up again since most of the parades I was in were over an hour away from my hometown. For travel, we were able to place all the decorations and crates in the back of our truck that pulled the trailer, and at the parade, we could easily set up. At the first parade, the float took nearly an hour to put together with three people, but by our last parade, we were able to put it up in 20 minutes flat with only two people!

Once we had figured out the float, the last step was the music. As a violinist, I have loved experimenting with electric violins and seeing what new sounds I can produce. After I was crowned Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen 2017, I ordered a new light up acrylic electric violin. This instrument was a major upgrade compared to my previous electric violin. At the time, I only had one amp to attach the violin to, and I wanted two—one for each side of the float. That’s when I set out to find a sponsor for a second amp. I’d love to give a big thank you to Jerry’s Music of Wausau, because he is the one that stepped up and was able to provide me with a second amp that worked phenomenally for all the parades this season!

For most of the parades I would arrive early to speak with businesses in the area about the Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen Organization. Additionally, I had a large amount of young girls come up to me. To some, I’m known as the “ice princess,” or a “red Elsa.” I’m so excited to be their role models!

While it wasn’t my goal when I signed up for these parades, I won four awards across the state. The first was in River Falls, where I was honored with “Most Dazzling!” In Manitowoc, one of the cities that I represented as a local titleholder, I was given an award, in addition to the cities of St. Germain and Ashland. I ended up fundraising roughly $100 which I gave back to each community that I received the award from.

Four battery-pack lights, multiple sticky tabs, one green light set, three large magnets, elastic strips for the crown lights, and seemingly an infinite amount of bobby pins later, I completed nine parades successfully while achieving my goals of finding more sponsors for the organization, spreading word about the program and inspiring young girls to look into the organization.

Hope you’re having a Merry Christmas and staying safe on the roads!

Grace Stanke
Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen 2017