The furry float itself went off without a hitch (there were some last-minute dramas with the float but those got resolved before we started marching). I planned to march on foot this year, as sort of a tribute to Rattus's first Mardi Gras when he was only a partial and we all had to do it on foot, and I followed through. (Thanks to Dustan for getting my new external foot paws done at such short notice.) Doing the parade on foot makes it feel much more personal and immediate, and I was able to surprise some of the audience by handing out impromptu hugs and high-fives. It also meant I featured prominently in Channel 10's news coverage of the event. I've said before I do it for the crowd, not for the media, but it is a nice bonus. I was especially chuffed because this was Rattus's 10th and he deserved something special to mark it. I felt like I was entering an altered state of mind towards the end but I knew I was committed because there's no question of climbing onto the float once the parade has started (it's a safety issue).
But what are the lessons I failed to learn? I thought getting a room near the end of the parade route would make it easier but that back-fired. My unfamiliarity with Sydney (even with Google Maps, it's very confusing) meant I ended up still being around 3km away from the end of the parade route, and so far away from the start that the only way to get there was by bus. I ended up with a large entourage and organising furries is like herding epileptic cats. By the time we were all ready and waiting at the bus stop, it took several buses before there was one empty enough to take us and then it was a slow creep through traffic to get to Hyde Park (anyone would think there was some big event on!). To my great shame, Dustan had to wait for us so we could all get into the locked off staging area. Afterwards it was a trudge back to the room. I think I was better off with the room I had last year, though at least this way we didn't have to navigate our way around the Mardi Gras crowds.
While I was thrilled to get a photo of Rattus with Scurrow and to fan-boy him, I was deeply disappointed not to get a photo of all three rodents together (except in Logan Husky’s group photo of course). I didn’t think it was my place to be ordering fursuiters about so I let the opportunity pass. Maybe I should have been more bossy? I’m sure the furries thought me adequately bossy when I was trying to get them to Hyde Park!
I was telling myself that this was my last one, that I don't have to keep coming. But why should I stop? I am still having a great time and (as I proved this year) I am still up to the physical challenge of marching. I just need to get over my superstition that if I miss a year I won't go again. Who knows? Maybe in 2025 I could celebrate Rattus's 20th anniversary? I think I will need to ride on the float for that one.
* (Yes, I'm self aware enough to know I have a huge vain streak, in common with all rats and fursuiters. I was using the word "humble" ironically.)