How much does Paul Mendenhall enjoy working the CarmelFest parade with his lifelong friend, Dave Dugan?
“This day ranks with the Indy 500 and Christmas for me,” Mendenhall said. “I love it.”
Since 2003, the two have shared the broadcast stand during the parade.
Mendenhall describes working with standup comedian Dugan as unpredictable.
“I never know what’s on his mind and am often surprised by some of the offbeat observations he makes,” Mendenhall said. “But it’s a hoot. We go way back and professionally wound up at the same (radio) station simultaneously but never as a team. So, I feel really fortunate to sit beside him, laugh, respond, encourage and occasionally redirect his focus back to the float, band or Cub Scout troop in front of us.”
The parade is set for 10:30 a.m. July 4. Dugan said the first time he served as a parade announcer was in 1997, when CarmelFest was much smaller.
“They just handed me a microphone, and I sat in the bleachers amongst all the attendees doing the commentary,” Dugan said. “I wonder how many of them thought I was just some crazy guy who brought his own mic and started sharing his random thoughts with those trying to watch the parade?”
Dugan said for two or three years he provided solo commentary. A couple of years, CarmelFest didn’t have a parade commentator.
“In 2003, when asked to return, I suggested it might be more effective and fun if there were two announcers,” he said. “I knew Paul would be perfect. Plus, we’d been friends since first grade and worked at WHJE together while attending Carmel High School, so we already had chemistry. Having Paul with his sense of humor coupled with his professionalism allows me to go off the rails with some comments, knowing Paul will always steer us back on track.”
Dugan met videographer Hal Espey, now a retired CHS broadcasting teacher, when they all started working the parade.
“He’s a great guy and very easy to work with, and his years heading up the television department gives us sort of a Carmel High School broadcasting department trifecta as well as many years of Carmel history to draw from,” Dugan said.
Dugan said he enjoys the festiveness of the July 4 holiday.
“Plus, it’s a really good parade, and it’s fun to have the freedom of what we say as each entry passes by our review booth,” Dugan said. “It’s just been great to have the camaraderie every year with Paul and Hal and the entire parade coordinating team who we’ve become friends with over the years. And after the parade, it’s always fun to ‘reward ourselves’ by meeting at the beer tent and/or getting a lemon shake-up. Plus, did I mention the candy thrown our way during the parade? Of course, I don’t eat it, I hand it out at Halloween. Saves me from the cost of buying treats for the kids.”
Espey said Dugan and Mendenhall’s knowledge of the area is a valuable asset.
“They know a lot of tidbits of history or trivia that many others would not,” Espey said. “They use that kind of knowledge in spontaneous, unscripted comments that are a lot of fun. They seem to have a relaxed, unpretentious rhythm and flow that works great between the two of them that is always peppered with humor. I love working and listening to them. It is very enjoyable and one of my favorite events of the year.”
Espey started CHTV at CHS.
“We did have a channel on the local cable system available to broadcast our productions,” Espey said. “This included such things as the parade. So, my parade experience goes back at least five years before Paul and Dave, probably more.”
Espey’s recording of the parade is given to the Carmel government TV outlet.
“That outlet can be seen on all the local cable companies as well as the internet, but to be clear, it is a delayed broadcast,” Espey said. “There is a link on the City of Carmel’s home page, carmel.in.gov, for Carmel TV. Paul and Dave’s audio is also used by a second camera and production crew that streams the event live. The parade committee uses my recording as well for review and evaluation. We normally use four cameras and an on-location switcher.”