Among the large crowd that filled the grass at Rifflandia on Friday, there were a few people besides the band members who stood out. A man in a red coat and hat, with a big white beard took part in the festivities. When I asked him why he chose to represent the famous Christmas gift-giver, he reminded me that the theme was “friendly Friday,” after all and who better to fit the friendly profile if not Santa? His costume plans for Rifflandia did not end there, however. He let me in on the fact that he has a different disguise picked out for each night, keeping which costume was next to be a surprise.
The next man I had the chance to speak with also sported a full head to toe (or rather, head to tail) costume. My family and I laughed afterwards because I had taken off from our lounging spot shouting behind me, “There’s a dinosaur, I gotta’ go!” This man rocked a complete green and yellow dinosaur onesie. When asked why he chose to dress up, he told me he wanted to be eccentric and get high fives! I’d have to say, “mission accomplished,” because just as I was speaking to him, a little boy approached us totally awed by the attire. My new dinosaur friend exuded Friday friendliness and undoubtedly made that boy’s day and also many others’. He let me know that he’s thinking of convincing someone he knows to let him borrow their unicorn costume for another day at Rifflandia.
Truly, whether you were dressed to impress or just being yourself, Rifflandia was definitely the festival for it. After the last show of that day’s pass, my family and I headed over to a coffee shop for a quick refresher before a finished evening. We visited with a few people inside and when we mentioned we’d come from Rifflandia, they said, “Oh that’s why you’re dressed that way!” My mother was the first one to admit that on the contrary, we often dress in bright, bold colours. It’s just who we are.
As I get to know people’s personal stories, I am constantly reminded that each and every one of us is unique and we all have a story behind why we do what we do. For some of us, we came from an oppressed place and now relish in any opportunity to break out. Others are waiting to meet “their people” to find some belonging and others, yet, are quietly confident, having only their Netflix history or bookshelf to show their true passions. Nonetheless, we all have talents and passions that were given to us for a reason, to benefit ourselves and also those around us. Now it’s our job to use those gifts because you never know whose day you’ll make just by being yourself.
And in the words of Michael Franti, “It’s good to be alive today.”