This year’s Ptown Carnival theme was “Back to the 80s” and the pre-parade mingle featured several head-banded, curly-wigged Richard Simmonses. With some fishnet stockings, a couple of the older, grayer Tom Cruises in Risky Business long-tailed white shirts and white tube socks, could have passed for Elaine Stritch. There was only one Madonna. But there is only one Madonna.
For some town elder Ls and Gs, who had survived the ‘80s, it was a head-scratcher of a theme. The ‘80s was a decade of Reagan and AIDS. The black humor of those horrible days re-emerged as many imagined a costume, “I’m going as a T-Cell.” “I’m wearing a hospital gown and pushing my IV pole bare-butted down Commercial.” I pictured a float with an educational diorama of Reagan never saying AIDS for eight years, destroying unions, cutting taxes on the rich, and eliminating the Department of Education. I pictured a kinetic depiction of the Trump voter origin story.
Carnival Parade, not Labor Day, always seems to be the absolute apex of the summer season and then it’s a quick slide downhill to Christmas and a January blizzard. But after Carnival this year, instead of a near audible sigh of relief, there was instead a full-throated roar for Hillary Clinton.
The real Cher. On Sunday after Carnival, Cher came to town with Hillary Clinton for a fundraiser up on Pilgrim monument hill. The town was a-swoon. The news that Cher was coming with Hillary had swept through town faster than a self-congratulatory Google search. If anything untoward happened, the event producers did have tag-team Chers standing by.
A thousand people attended and the event raised $1.5 million in ticket prices ranging from $45 to $27,000. While Hillary and Cher were taking grip and grin photos with big dollar donors in the Monument Museum, I emceed the pre-show T-dance. A huge crowd in a cavernous open-sided white tent sang and sashayed to a booming Cher playlist. Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, Attorney General Maura Healey and sports icon and social justice pioneer Billie Jean King ramped up the already ramped crowd. Then Cher came out and was Cher in her fabulous, chatty, wise way. More swoon.
Then event co-chairs Brian Rafanelli and Alix Ritchie introduced the next president of the United States. At 4 p.m., and fresh from two fund-raisers earlier on the Cape, Hillary took the stage to a long ovation. She spoke for 30 minutes. She was by turns warm in her appreciation of the organizers, awed by the panoramic view of the beautiful day and bay, self-described wonky with plans for the country, grateful for the support of the LGBT community and realistic about her dangerous opponent, the election and the polls. It was a pleasure to be in an unapologetic, pro-Hillary crowd and good to see her finally getting some love.
Hillary and I not only have the same last name but we are the same age. She left the stage for a car to another fundraiser then to the airport to another city, another time zone, another fundraiser. I left the site, went home, ate leftovers, watched “The Great British Bakeoff,” fell asleep on the couch at 9 p.m. and woke with shin cramps at 2 a.m. She is the unbreakable Hillary Clinton.