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Boston has its marathon. New York has New Year's Eve in Times Square. New Orleans has Mardi Gras. Pasadena has the Rose Parade.
All of these festivals have their notoriety. Big cities have big festivals. Little cities have little festivals. Not that they are any less significant, but they are merely smaller in absolute scale. Although smaller in absolute scale, they do shut down more of the town while people celebrate. Valdosta has its Miss Turpentine Contest, Calavaeras County has its frog jump, and Lexington has an annual barbeque festival (that's smoked and shredded pig for you Yankees :-).
My town is unique. We are a single economy town. Now normally, that's a dangerous thing, but in our case, our economic future is secure. The major employer in the town manufactures one of life's necessities: an item without which civilization as we know it would simply not exist: diapers.
Yes, diapers! Everyone starts life in diapers. Some linger a little longer in them than others, but the demand will always be there as long as there are babies and toddlers.
So, it is not at all surprising that our town sponsors a "Diaper Days" festival every summer.
It's a lot like many other small town festivals I've been to in my life: Main Street was blocked off for several blocks, a portable amusement park was erected complete with rides, and a Ferris Wheel that towered over most of the two-story buildings in the town. There were games of chance, clowns and even one of those lever and pole contraptions you hit with a big hammer to see if you can slide the weight up to ring the bell.
Main Street was jammed with booths of every kind with people selling food to raise money for the Rotary, Kiwanis, Girl Scouts or whatever. Other booths were more commercial with artists and other local vendors selling their wares. The town also hired some people to do face painting and make balloon animals for the kids.
Down at the courthouse workmen erected a stage where dancers and bands performed almost continuously. In the parking lot to the side, they erected bleachers so people could watch other contests. Every kid in town came down to watch them. Here was tangible proof that the festival was coming which only increased our anticipation.
But what made our town different from every other town was the theme: diapers. The light poles were festooned with them, they hung outside every business, and they were strung pole to pole on clotheslines like Christmas decorations. Indeed, Christmas was never so white. In the bright sun, it looked like a winter wonderland in all of its billowing white glory. It was as if we brought summer's sunlit clouds down to earth to rest on Main Street.
The festivities were kicked off by the Diaper Day parade. The parade was officially opened by some pompous speeches by town officials but the real opening was provided by a couple of sky divers parachuting in with white chutes that had diaper pins painted on them in the appropriate place. They landed right in front of the review stand.
Otherwise, it wasn't much as parades go. The local high school band led it off. High stepping girls in sequined leotards and white boots, twirling batons and waving flags followed. There was a team from the local dance school, a hay wagon with a barbershop quartet, a flatbed truck with some square dancers, and floats.
Floats with diaper themes. Some of these were rather amateurish being nothing more than cars with diapers all over them. Others were more ingenious being made up to look like changing tables, bassinets and one that featured a woman over a sink and washboard tending to her diapers while her "babies" in oversized diapers waived from equally oversized furniture surrounding her.
Along side the floats marched smiling and waving people dressed as the various things you would find around a changing table: bottles of baby lotion, tubes of ointment, canisters of wipes, and of course baby powder.
The parade was finished by the arrival of Mr. and Ms. Diaper in their white and powder blue 1950's vintage convertible complete with its high tail fins. Mr. Diaper wore a T-shirt and bulky "boy" diapers. Ms. Diaper Had on a white bikini top, and "girl" diapers. Her diapers seemed trimmer looking more like bikini bottoms than her male counterpart's which climbed about halfway up his stomach. Both of them sat on top of the back seat smiling and waving to the crowds as the vehicle crept down Main Street.
Ms. Diaper was about the only woman you would see in diapers at the festival. Although everyone in the town was encouraged to wear diapers, it seemed that only men and boys took up the offer. It was hilarious to watch as the mayor dressed in black top hat, starched white shirt, formal black coat, black bow tie, black socks, black shoes and snow white DIAPERS, undid the oversized safety pin that dropped the ribbon to begin the parade.
Everywhere you looked you saw men and boys in diapers. My mom says that when she was a little girl, she used to wear diapers to the event, but that over the years, it seemed to become a more and more male thing. Now, the only girls you see in diapers are the few who are not yet potty trained.
Another thing mom told me about was the year the town council decided to change the format of the festival. They added some fun fund raising events. For a fee, you could hire the sheriff to "arrest" someone and throw them in "jail." You could also go down and bail them out for a nominal fee.
For men, they instituted a new event. Instead of paying to get out of somewhere, they were required to pay to get into somewhere. The porta-potties were for women and girls only. Any man wanting to use one was required to pay the attendant a dollar that went to charity. Attendants also roamed the downtown area collecting a "diaper tax" from the few men or boys not in diapers.
The attendants were universally women, and were recognized as being officials connected with the festival by the large metal diaper attached to their uniforms with safety pins. On the diaper was etched the words, "Diaper Patrol." The Diaper Patrol did those things that had to be done in connection with a festival including collecting fees from men and boys at the porta-potties. Now I ask you, if you are wearing a diaper, where do you keep your wallet?
Indeed, the festival days were ones where we girls had financial control over our brothers. They'd have to come to us to get money from our purses so they can buy something or go on the rides. I especially liked controlling the purse strings. Mom would give me all the money and send me out with my two brothers with the instructions, "Now don't let them spend it foolishly." My brothers, realizing that I had all the money, never left my side.
My kid brother got along with the idea fairly well and pretty much did what I told him. He mostly went along with what I suggested. My older brother however, was a pain in the diapers (if I wore them). He had a rebellious streak and tried to buck my every suggestion. However, on this one set of days, I was Queen and he had to obey me. I controlled his money, and besides, just how seriously can you take someone in diapers when you don't wear them yourself?
The first thing I would do is meet up with my girlfriends and we'd compare how we were dressed. Diaper Days was the biggest holiday of the year in our town, and you didn't go downtown in just anything. You put on your best top, your shortest shorts, and those new sandals that you've been saving just for this occasion. I had to tie a sweater around my waist so as to hide how much my shorts revealed from mom. She smiled at me. I have no doubt that she knew what I was doing. She probably did it herself when she was a girl. I ditched the sweater on the porch of the abandoned house down the block. I could pick it up on my way back.
Each of us girls had her brother in tow. They all had that invisible leash on them that kept them attached to us. Naturally we'd compare how our brothers were dressed. I mean, diapers are diapers, but each of us had our own flair on how she diapered her brothers.
Oh, did I forget to mention that? Although my brothers were both "big boys" and capable of dressing themselves, like most boys they had no idea of what to do with diapers, so mom made me change them. Male modesty went out the window during diaper days. Saying that mom "made" me do it isn't probably he best way to describe it. I was eager to do the task. A girl has to help her mom out now. Doesn't she?
My friends thought so, and the boys stood by sheepishly while we discussed how long it took to diaper our boys and the fuss they made. Secretly we whispered back and forth doing a "comparative anatomy" exercise. Having one of the older brothers, I had a lot to talk about. We also talked about other boys, school, how the summer vacation was going, popular music, other girls, clothes and all matters that interest young girls ... and bore young boys.
Any other time of year, they'd give us a hard time about it. However, now they were doomed to stand by and listen patiently. Eventually when even we had run out of things to talk about, we would wander into town towards the activities.
We'd walk through the town eyeing the bediapered spectacle before us. Every now and then we'd spot a particularly cute boy or maybe one that was sloppily diapered. We'd gather with hands to each other's ears whispering and giggling. The boys just had to know we were talking about them, and they blushed. That would cause us to giggle even more.
Diaper Days could have just been as well called "Girl Days" considering all the fun we had at the expense of the boys.
Although there were people all over downtown during the festival, the center of organized activity was the courthouse. There were periodic performances by dance teams, bands, a magician, and even a puppet show for the kids.
Along one side of the courthouse was the main exhibit. The plant was very proud of its almost 100-year history in the diaper making business, and they had a display showing the various model diapers through the years along with vintage pictures of women making diapers, and women using diapers on their children. There were pictures of the various Mr. and Ms. Diaper going back to who knows when and there were men and boys modeling the latest in diaperwear. The R&D and marketing departments were out there asking people what they liked to see in diapers. Uh, what *features* they like to see in diapers, that is.
At the end of the exhibit, you could have a diaper embroidered with an initial. There was a crowd of boys queued up with their sisters and moms. As you left, a smiling Ms. Diaper or one of her assistants gave you a "diaper dollar" redeemable for some goodies at many of the booths on the street. My brothers and I always spent ours almost immediately. I think it would be worth a lot more to me today if I still had one.
On the other side the courthouse, in the "Arena" were demonstrations of diapering products and diapering techniques. Live infomercials were going on for a good portion of the day. However, the real draw for the crowd was the diaper competition. Actually it was a combination of competitions.
There was, of course, the traditional diaper derby with crawling infants making their way to mom or dad. That's the picture that was usually featured on the front page of the paper the next day.
There was an adult version of this game, a 5K fun run with the men and boys running in nothing more sneakers and diapers with their contestant number safety pinned to the back of the diaper and flapping in the breeze like a pennant. The men and boys generally didn't do as well as the women and girls since diapers tend to make one "waddle" and otherwise interferes with your stride.
For boys of various ages, there was also a version of a three- legged race, but instead of being tied at the leg, they were pinned at the hip.
For the more serious competitions, contestants were divided into categories by age, not unlike in soccer: under-8, under-10, under-12, under-14, and under-18. Although the competition was open to all townsfolk, only girls seemed to apply, and the diaperees were all male, of various ages, but usually matched fairly well to the girls diapering them.
Nearly every girl in the town competed. There were over a thousand dollars in prizes ranging from gift certificates to beauty parlors, and clothing stores to actual cash. Every girl walked off with at least a small prize of some sort so everyone was a winner. The real motivation was the recognition for being the best diaperer in her category. In this town being best diaperer was better than being the star player on the football or basketball team.
Trophies were awarded to the first place winners. I was never so lucky, but I do remember how proudly I displayed my "thank you for playing" certificates on my bedroom wall. They are still tucked away in an airtight plastic bag in my attic along with other relics of my girlhood such as the program to the first dance that I was actually asked to by a real boy, and the ticket stub from the first movie "date" I ever had. Some of my friends had their awards publicly displayed in the hallway next to other family "trophies."
One of the fun contests was the "Most Diapers" contest. The rules were simple. A girl was positioned at the changing table with a boy in place in front of her. At the word, "go," she had two minutes to get as many diapers on the boy as possible. Rarely was this contest ever decided on the first round First place tie-ers went into a second round where they had three minutes and so on and so forth.
A variation of this contest involved two girls. The winning teams usually had one girl lifting the boy's legs while the other girl put the diaper underneath. One girl then pinned while the other girl handed the pins to her. It was not unlike watching a pit crew working on a car at a race. These girls could really stack up those diapers!
I was always teamed with my cousin Nancy for this contest. The poor girl. She's almost two years younger than me, but I was the one who slowed her down. But I was a rank amateur. She diapered her brothers almost daily. I diapered mine only once a year.
Another favorite contest was "The Nursery." A diapered boy was positioned on the changing table in the center of the arena. At various places around the edges and corners of the arena, were small tables containing the things needed to change him: such as diapers, pins, powder, ointment, and wipes. The girl had to undiaper the boy and then run to each table, one at a time, run back to the changing table and place the item there. Once she collected all the items, she then had to diaper the boy, raising her hand when she was done to stop the clock. The girl who could diaper her boy in the least amount of time won!
For the less "athletic" girls there was a fashion contest. Girls were encouraged to diaper their boys in the most creative way possible. There were the usual subjective criteria for determining the winner: most originality, most artistic interpretation, most in line with the theme of the festival. The winners always seemed to fit the "little boy blue" in his Oshkosh B'Gosh attire.
It was a challenge to figure out just how much diaper to show out the legs and how to keep them there. When this contest first started, it was a "clean" contest. Then one year, one of the boys peed his pants and it showed. The girl won first prize. Now a wet diaper with just the right amount of leakage is mandatory.
Diaper Days are a fond part of my memories. I can remember looking forward to them with almost as much excitement as waiting for Christmas morning. I would get up early and beg my mom to take me downtown. She convinced me that waiting for the sun to come up and having breakfast first was a better idea. I know I wouldn't get home until well after dark. I can remember laying in my bed looking up at the certificates I had won as they flapped in the summer breeze coming through my window. I would imagine them as diapers on the clothesline outside.
Even now when I meet a friend from the old town, we can't resist talking about Diaper Days and the fun we had as girls.
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