THIS IS SPARTA: A Christmas Tale


The General on his chariot

News of the approaching convoy had spread quickly, and a small group of villagers was huddled around a crackling bonfire when we arrived. Everyone looked excited, nervous. Mothers took long looks at the flushed faces of their unsuspecting children. Soon- very soon- the younguns would learn the ways of the world, but for now they frolicked happily in spite of the biting cold.

Kelsey Ivey and I had briefly reminisced about our carefree art adventure in October (Oh, how times change!), and were ready to return to dark reality. We were not the type of war journalists who chase tragedy for fame and fortune. We’d been thrown into the job by circumstance, the circumstance being Sunday’s Coburg Christmas Light Parade, and by God, we were going to do our duty.

Coburg is an isolated place in the best of times, and news was trickling in. A caravan of futuristic, glowing vehicles was apparently headed toward us, and there was no telling their intentions. We ducked into the senior center, our ears burning for local gossip.


Three tight-lipped senior citizens served us hot chocolate and asked for donations, already focused on the relief effort.


Watching over the tense scene was Eva Mylar Stokes, founder. I thought, “What would Eva do?” I couldn’t get into her head, so we stepped back into the cold to survey the scene.

The village was low on weaponry but high on spirit, so all of the villagers had lined the streets to meet their fates. Just around the bend, we caught a glimpse of flashing lights and all chatter ceased.

Suddenly, he was on us. The Great Glowing General of the neon army had arrived on his hog, and the crowd gasped with a mix of wonder and horror. Surely they hadn’t sent such an experienced warrior, with his fiery red uniform and impressive grey beard, to flatten the little town of Coburg?

Behind him was a trailer full of common soldiers holding mysterious bundles in their hands. The General sent some invisible signal, and a volley of projectiles flew over the side of the trailer. The battle had truly begun.


As journalists, we knew that we couldn’t take cover. No, we would stand the constant shower of mysterious, hard chunks of shrapnel in order to report on the story. The things we saw stretched the imagination, from flying phosphorescent reindeer to a snowman with boxing gloves to a miniature horse that was so cute, it almost turned us to the dark side. Clearly our enemies were conducting some strange experiments.


We noted that the authorities were suspiciously part of the line-up, and coughed when a very loud jeep puttered by.

“That jeep has 700 horsepower!” said a nearby villager, who had clearly been fraternizing with the enemy.


Only by the end of the convoy did we realize that the shrapnel was actually candy, and that the last tank seemed to be handing out stuffed animals to the children. So perhaps this Lite Brite brigade was actually some sort of goodwill caravan. Or maybe the fuzzy creatures are bugged.

Either way, I think I’ve succeeded in telling the story differently than Kelsey! Check out her post (which includes WAY better pictures and video) on our adventure HERE.

1 comment
  1. It’s a rouge life watching Christmas Light parades! Love your take on the night.

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