The Two Hour Dragon

It’s a good title for a children’s story, don’t you think?  It would go something like this…

One morning at school, the art teacher passed the word: “The dragon just might be ready by this afternoon.”

As every good school knows, dragon parade opportunities come but once a year: Chinese New Year in February. It’s the year of the rooster. Gung hay fat chow, is the traditional new year chant. Therefore one must ‘seize the day.’ Any opportunity for exuberant, spontaneous winter parades, complete with cymbals, bells, tambourines, drums, kazoos, and thirty feet of cloth disguising 64 children, combined with freak warmth and sunshine in February in a northern New England coastal town (despite warnings of an impending storm), are rare.

It seemed obvious what to do: start the second and third graders gluing colored paper to the big cardboard boxes the teachers had been saving. Styrofoam packing material could be turned into horns, jaws, and enormous eyebrows. CDs make terrific shiny eyes. And tattered fabric can be turned into a shaggy mane in minutes by the fourth graders. Ten yards of bargain red and gold Chinese fabric took care of the body.

It almost didn’t fit out of the door of the art room. “Try the window,” suggested the kids. The tape measure said that the window didn’t buy more than an inch and a half. “Maybe if we turn it on its side and lever the jaws out first?” It worked.

Gotta make noise. Music closet—Huzzah! Instant band. We’re ready. Who’ll be inside the dragon head? Eighth graders, by virtue of seniority and stamina and superior dragon-dancing skills and height. Put 32 pairs of legs, from short to long, under the dragon tale; distribute noisy percussion instruments to the other 32 pairs. “I can’t hear you”—how often does a principal ask for more noise? Now, walk this way.






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