The interesting thing about planning this mission trip is how often I remind the group to leave their expectations in Minnesota because we really wouldn’t know what to expect. That’s certainly true of our trip to Beaumont, TX for the Crockett Street dance. After a meal of burgers and hot dogs on the grill (ending with a group reading of this blog and your comments, dear reader), twelve of us piled into the big white van and headed to Beaumont. Jerry M. and Chris S. opted to stay behind and get some shut-eye as did Dave S., who I’m pretty sure was asleep immediately after dinner.
Beaumont’s less than a half hour from Port Arthur and we found parking a breeze at 10:00pm. The group took a few photos at the world’s largest fire hydrant thanks to two factors: 1. Piper’s parents posting about the fire hyrdant in their comment in this blog, and 2. it’s the world’s largest fire hydrant; it isn’t hard to miss. Group photos complete, we waked to Crockett Street to check out the party. While their website said to “bring the family,” we found 99% of those in attendance were 21+ and hanging out in warm bars across the pedestrian mall / street from a live band whose musical repertoire ranged from Elton John to The Beatles to Bon Jovi to The Beatles to The Beatles. The youth discovered a table of brown paper bags filled with New Year’s Eve goodies: hats, whistles, cranks, horns, balloons, leis, and so on. We were diving into our third bag by the time the fella who was selling the bags asked us for his nine dollars. Pastor Kent and I paid the man and we were all able to walk around with noisy noise makers without worry of committing accidental petty theft.
Our group ended up inside a restaurant that, while the kitchen was closed, told us we could have a seat and they had hot coffee and hot cocoa for us. Our server worked hard for us and we tipped him accordingly; the young man made three coffees, a Shirley Temple, a tall cranberry juice, and seven hot cocoas on his own whiel the bar staff served other patrons. He even topped off all the hot beverages with a generous dollop of whipped cream and made sure we had party hats, crowns, and horns. The horns were especially loud and annoying, but not from us. Kelly and I went to the dance floor to cut a rug while a live jazz ensemble played a slow number. During the song, other couples on the dance floor blew those loud, annoying horns while the band was trying to play something sweet and sultry. The saxophone player stared one obnoxious guy down, calmly took out his reed, and started tooting it in return. I’m not sure if the obnoxious guy got the message, but Kelly and I enjoyed our dance, all the same.
We stepped outside for the final countdown and let the confetti rain down on us from a restaurant balcony. After a few moments of laughter, smiles, and photos, we agreed that while it was much nicer weather than what was likely happening back home in Minnesota, it was pretty darn cold and it was time to head back to Port Arthur. We headed back to the van and headed home, quiet, tired, and ready for sleep to fuel us for a new day of work. It wasn’t the most fun New Year’s Eve the group has had, but I’m sure it will be a memorable one and something we can look back on with laughter, given the non-dancing aspect of the “street dance.”
Highlights included Steve C. using his New Year’s horn as a duck call, Trevor N.’s joke that the one lone light on in a high-rise just off Crockett Street was the last reporter trying to make a deadline, people watching for those in shiny, glittery outfits including one man who looked more than out of it, my getting to shoot off the confetti cap gun the grocery store patrol bought me (I need to put “Toys for Nate” on more shopping lists, I think), Pete S. wondering whether he should order a cranberry juice or a “virgin” vodka cranberry, and walking back to the van behind a couple who were clearly in some sort of argument (the woman walked about ten feet in front of the man at a pace which implied she invented the term “brisk”).
Some photos courtesy of Molly D. from Crockett Street: