Monday, July 4, 2011


Our small town celebrates Independence Day with a parade of just the right size. It's big enough that some people come from larger towns and cities for that je ne sais quois you just don't get in a big city parade, but small enough that it starts at 9:30 a.m. and we are back home by 11. We and apparently quite a few other people complete the celebration with lunch and a nap. If you want fireworks, you'll have to drive to another town or buy your own.

This marks my seventh consecutive year of photographing the parade, but I didn't take nearly as many pictures as in years past, largely because the lineup doesn't change all that much from year to year. It starts with a kids parade that any kid can be in just by showing up, bicycle optional. Most of the participants are younger kids who decorate their bicycles, tricycles, and wagons in red, white and blue with help from their parents, who walk alongside or behind them.

Then a color guard from the VFW, followed by all the fire trucks and ambulances from the local fire department and those of several nearby towns, all blowing their sirens continuously, with occasional interjections from their air horns. GL covered his ears, but he handled the noise pretty well. Maybe next year I'll focus on his reactions to the parade.

It's not only the blend that's consistent from year to year, it's largely a repetition of the same entries. Each is assigned a place in the lineup, which does vary but seems somewhat random. Perhaps it's based on the order in which their entry blanks were received and processed. Scattered throughout are Jeeps, convertibles, vans, and busses carrying veterans of every war the U.S. has fought from WWII to the present. This is the kind of town where people still stand up and clap and cheer when the veterans go by. A few shout, "Thank you!"

There is an assortment of brass bands. Pretty much every business in town that owns at least one truck enters it in the parade. So do many businesses from surrounding towns. Every church and club and organization in town has some kind of entry. Every farm family enters at least one tractor, preferably the oldest one they can get running. I didn't take many tractor pictures this year. As with the fire trucks, I already had pictures of most, if not all.

Some entries leave me scratching my head:

I'm not sure, but I think it's (front row, left to right) a Civil War soldier, Betsy Ross, a Revolutionary War soldier, (middle row, left to right) Mr. T, the Statue of Liberty, a present-day American soldier, (back row, left to right) Mr. Spock, Captain Kirk, and Dr. McCoy. I didn't get it in the picture, but I think they had a banner that said, "Let freedom ring yesterday, today, and forever," and the name of the sponsoring church, which I'm almost positive was Methodist. So I guess they have a methodism to their madness.

Everyone with an old car, or just one they want to show off, enters it in the parade.

I'm seeing a subtle message here.

The two man rock band made its annual appearance. For the second year in a row, they got in near the beginning, then zipped down the back streets and to the start of the parade route and made a second appearance near the end. I think I heard that's okay as long as you fill out two entry blanks. I don't mind, I enjoy their music. They play mostly '70s with the occasional new song from the 1980's. I guess that counts as an Oldies band these days. When I hear the word "Oldies" I still think of '50s and '60s music.

Our State Representative was in the parade, as always. Did I mention that when Mama Bear had a question about something in his constituent newsletter, she emailed him, and he sent a personal reply the same day? 

Various sports / cheer / dance teams did their routines or just waved at people. 
One new entry this year was a high wheeler, or penny-farthing bicycle. When I say every business had a truck in the parade, I do mean every business.

This being a small-town parade, while it started out evenly spaced, it was soon bunched up, so there were groups of entries stuck in stop-and-go traffic, waiting for the entries in front of them to move, interspersed with gaps, some long enough that we thought the parade was over, but when we stood up to gather our things, we saw more coming. When the parade really was over, we weren't sure at first. There was a gap, followed by a police car (he was re-opening the street) followed by a long line of cars. But mixed in the line were several parade entries trying to get back home. We had our annual traffic jam, which sorted itself out in ten or fifteen minutes, and everyone went home for lunch and a nap.

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