Friday, October 18, 2013

The Sparklers Parade Corps

I promised a blog about The Sparklers, and didn't have a chance to bring it, but this group is something very, very dear to me.  I have had small twirling classes since I was about 16 years old.  Some of these groups went over really well and some of them tanked for a variety of reasons.  It was a trial an error processes that has spanned the course of  approximately 21 years.  WOW!!!  Has it really been that long?  Am I really THAT old????  Let's put it this way:  I have "little twirlers" that are married with children now.  YIKES!  I have taught children of twirlers that I have taught.  DOUBLE YIKES!

At any rate, the specific group that has been known as The Sparklers, started out in a little town called Crane, Texas, as a Girl Scout activity.  We had not created the name at that point, but I knew that all of the girls were interested in baton twirling, cheer leading, dancing, etc, and I felt that it was not very much fun to have Girl Scouts riding on floats in local parades.  The floats were usually bland, at best, and the girls didn't have a chance to really show themselves.  It would be a mess of girls, sitting on a poorly decorated trailer........a big waste of time, in my opinion.  I asked this Girl Scout group of varied ages if they would like to try baton twirling and they unanimously decided to do it.  They used money that they had earned through product sales to purchase their Girl Scout sashes to wear for their first parade, and I taught them a very easy routine to some fun, popular music.  It was a big hit.  After that parade, they decided that they wanted to continue twirling, and so we named ourselves The Sparklers, because it was a patriotic themed group. 

After that first year of The Sparklers being only open to our local Girl Scouts, we began to invite other girls to participate.  The first parade that we did as a community group, we were awarded honorable mention for the July 4th parade and the next year, we were Best Youth Entry.  Things just blossomed from there. 

We moved to another town, called Monahans, Texas, which is about an hour away from Crane.  The first thing that happened to us in Monahans, was that our new house got broken into and every single baton was stolen, including batons that I had used myself as a little girl.  I was devastated.  This may not be something that would affect other people exactly the way that it did me, but my entire life had been wrapped up in twirling since I was a little girl.  The thieves should have taken any number of things, but that. 

About a year later, I was able to buy new batons for all of us, and I got started working with just my own children again.  They invited some friends to start practicing with us.  We did a couple of local parades.  I started getting phone calls from mothers, wanting to know how to sign up, and before I knew it, I had this amazing team of girls, eager to learn, ranging from age 3 to 18.  When I realized how truly large we had grown, was when I tried to get a picture of the group rehearsing, and discovered that I could not fit them all in my camera's view at the same time! 

Since then, girls have come in and out.  Some have left and came back.  I feel the sting of any of them that leave, and rejoice when they return.  Some girls move away, some have health problems, some just decide that twirling isn't for them, and some even go to different teachers.  I do feel the loss and gain of each and every one of them.  God brings us all together for a reason, for however long that may be.  My team usually averages about 25 girls at the time, with most of them active, while others just come when they are able. 

This year, we have performed in three parades, with a fourth on the schedule, the local Freedom Fest for July 4th, Relay for Life, the Big 2 News talent show, and had two half time performances for the West Texas Drillers football team.  We have many, many dates booked between now and December, and invitations are already coming in for the summer. 

We have had a lot of support from places like the local Chamber of Commerce, Pinatas by Missy, Persuasion Car Club, Critter Oasis and St. Johns Catholic Church  Without them, I don't know that we would have grown exactly the way that we have.  In turn, we have helped with fund raising for Critter Oasis, and have participated in school supply drives.  There will be more community service activities as they come available. I am so grateful for all that everyone has done for us. Also, the support from the parents in this group is phenomenal, and I am still in contact with MY twirling teacher from "back in the day."  She still goes down in the books as being one of my all time favorite people.

Here are The Sparklers and the Lady Drillers:

 Here is the last July 4th Parade, with Persuasion Car Club lined up with us: 
 They were all smiles as the parade was about to start rolling:

 This was a private lesson with a fellow homeschooling family:

The photo above was from Christmas 2012.
Below, the girls took a picture with a Hello Kitty twirler pinata that was made by Pinatas by Missy.  

Above, the parents put together this float for the girls for the Christmas 2012 parade.
As you can well imagine, there are many, many more pictures, and will be many more made in the coming months, but I just wanted to share this exciting part of the lives of The Four Princesses.  Hope that you are loving it as much as I am.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

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