Arnold Pete’s ears were freezing.
The Central Consolidated School District Maintenance Department worker was playing the guitar while singing a variety of Christmas songs on the CCSD float during the Dec. 9, 2016 Shiprock Parade of Lights, which began at 6 p.m. at the Shiprock Chapter parking lot after it was dark.
The temperature was around the freezing mark. Arnold couldn’t cover his ears—a musician has to be able to hear his music as he plays.
Proving one is never too old to be a kid at Christmas, the Maintenance Department put together an “I’ll be Home for Christmas” float depicting a reindeer pulling Santa’s sled. Maintenance workers and their families on the float waved and tossed candy to children standing on the sidewalk with their parents.
“I was up on the float singing, making the spirit brighter,” Arnold said. “Which is good—a lot of people are into it. I sang “We wish you a Merry Christmas, Jingle Bells, Run Run Rudolph. I sang some in Navajo.
“We put some soul, some Blues in there, and made it all sound good. It’s for the community, the people. It’s not just for me. I like to share my music and let people be happy for Christmas, and enjoy Christmas. That’s what I want.”
U.S. 64 was silent, aside from the singing, as the floats—led by Navajo Police cruisers with their emergency lights on—traveled from the Chapter parking lot, across the Shiprock Bridge, and to the City Market parking lot.
The CCSD float was awarded a 1st place trophy for the parade, which was sponsored by the Shiprock Office of Dine Youth.
The Maintenance Department staff involved to build the float included worker Arnold Pete, Supervisor Tom Smith, Shiprock Foreman Jody Benally, Department clerk Chanda Keeto, and Maintenance Compliance Specialist Marvis Frazier. Also helping were Maintenance workers Sterling Benally and Marvin Ayze.
“All the Maintenance guys had their input,” Smith said. “Everybody had their part,” in building the float.
“The team was insistent—‘We want to do this, we’re going to do this,’” said Eric James, director of Maintenance. “They said, ‘We’ll make it happen with what we have.’”
They used existing materials found in the Maintenance Department, including Christmas decorations from years past, to build the float.