fireworks, sousa and being an old goof

i admit it.  i love a parade.  especially around independence day.  not your overly produced, sanitized, polished, perfect parade (i’m okay with that for new year’s day).  give me the hometown, hokey parade where they drag out the fire trucks and the ‘antique’ cars, the local high school band, boy scouts, girl scouts and pets.  

in h town there isn’t one community-wide parade, but a series of neighborhood parades and kind of block parties centered around the various neighborhood parks.  the parade is for the kids to be in.  they ride or are pulled in any manner of wheeled vehicle (bikes, skates, skateboards, scooters, big wheels, strollers, wagons, tricycles, etc.) all decorated in whatever materials come in red, white and blue.  it ends at the park where there’s face painting, hot dogs, baked goods and relay races.  

i looked forward to those parades every year, probably more than the kids did.  there was just something so inviting about the smallness of it.  c and i would get the supplies and the kids would decorate their bikes (complete with the playing card clipped to the frame so it flapped against the spokes on the wheel).  there were a few years where i painted t-shirts for them with flags or stars or fireworks.  understandably, that went over better with our daughters than our son.  

the kids helped decorate the house and the yard for the 4th.  they put the flags in the flowerpots around the yard, the streamers and tinsels around the back yard and the blueberries and strawberries on the flag cake (had to have a flag cake, although i like the flag sugar cookies better). 

john adams believed that independence day should be celebrated by, “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…”.  no doubt.  the philadelphia fireworks are spectacular, the concert and party on the parkway are always terrific.  

but what i really need on the 4th of july is a hometown parade.  the kind where you sit on the curb with a tiny flag, hugging the dog whose wearing your old blue and white bandanna.   

i used to work with a guy who volunteered to organize hometown parades.  he’d go into communities that didn’t have one and help them get one put together.  he never had any kids of his own.  he just loved hometown parades.  he’d get all excited when he talked about what he was doing, the triumphant moment when he’d convince another mayor or board of commissioners that they needed a parade.  he’d say that parades are the kind of small gestures that strengthen a community, contribute to the heart and soul, give an excuse for neighbors to talk to one another, heck even see one another in some suburbs.  he believed that hometown parades translated into people being more involved on all levels of their community.  

at the time i enjoyed his stories and thought it was funny that he decided to make his hobby organizing parades.  but i also thought he was kind of an old goof.  now i get what he was saying.  i guess now i’m that old goof.  

happy independence day!



1 Comment

Filed under dog, family, holiday

One response to “fireworks, sousa and being an old goof

  1. Chris

    I was on a float in the Monrovia Days parade one year. We were living on Concord Ave so I might have been in kindergarten or first grade. I don’t remember whose float it was, but I do remember that it was scary, thrilling, cold and very special. I don’t think we had neighborhood Independence Day parades in California. We usually went swimming at the Monrovia Plunge, then packed up a picnic, and went to Arcadia Park (name?) for games and fireworks.

    It wasn’t until I came to St. Louis that I saw my first neighborhood parade, the type you describe. They are precious pieces of Americana, silly and authentic.

    One of the funniest I ever saw calls itself the first July 4th parade in the US — in Gatlinburg, TN. It begins at 12:01AM on the 4th with a flatbed trailer that has a mocked up wedding chapel and an actual wedding taking place. (Gatlinburg calls itself the wedding capitol of the US.) The parade goes on for a hour or more with marching bands, horses, utility vehicles, floats, fire trucks, and ends with another decorated flatbed where, you guessed it, the wedding reception is in full swing–food, musicians, dancing, candies thrown to the crowds, fireworks. Now that’s the American spirit: clever, creative and goofy.

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