Mondo Spider Marches in The Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington DC
In the early morning hours of April 14th, The Mondo Spider was deployed in the heart of the American capitol to take part in the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. The Cherry Blossom Parade is an annual, nationally televised spectacle to commemorate the gift of hundreds of Japanese Cherry trees from Japan to the city in 1912, making this the 100th anniversary. The Mondo Spider lead USA Science & Engineering Festival section alongside over 4000 other participants in the parade. Spider co-creator Ryan Johnston lead dedicated volunteers Spencer Treffry and Jessica Johnston on the perilous transcontinental journey. Ryan then took the driver’s seat in the Spider for most of the parade, flanked by spider co-creators Jonathan Tippett and Leigh Christie and the rest of the road crew. The parade ran all the way down the National Mall and the Spider was resounding favorite, inciting cheers and waves from an estimated 100,000+ spectators and the event is expected to be seen by over 72 million TV viewers across the USA.
The parade route was a straight 1.5km, right down Constitution Avenue, in the heart of Washington DC. It was the longest continuous walk the Spider has ever done, so she got a thorough tune up at the eatART Laboratory before departing. She was fitted with a brand new set of lithium-ion batteries and given a thorough mechanical inspection. It’s amazing how many cracks a set of spider legs can have and still keep walking! The boarder crossing went remarkably smoothly thanks to some key prep work done by seasoned Spidey Polly Tan. The trip was not without hiccups mind you. After a triumphant performance and a solid mile of walking in the blazing sun (which was hot enough to cause parade partner “McGruff the Crime Dog” to collapse from heat exhaustion, sending his asphyxiating dog head rolling ominously across the pavement), we still had to load the Spider back into her trailer atop her transcontinental traveling companion Titanoboa. In all the excitement, exhaustion and relief, someone (who shall remain nameless, right Ryan?) locked the keys for the truck and trialer, in the trailer. This afforded us an opportunity to support the American economy with the purchase of some frost beverages which we sipped while watching a determined locksmith destroy a collection of drill bits on the top-0f-the-line locks that spider co-creator Charlie Brinson had diligently bought to protect both the Spider and his Titanoboa.
Eventually, the keys were retrieved and the crew was able to retire to the Hotel room and relax properly and make their flights home