I didn't bring my camera to the Fourth of July parade. It felt strange not having it hang like a pendant around my neck, but it had rained throughout the night, as only an insomniac would know, and was cool and sprinkley with more rain pending.
I'm not a lover of parades. The wait for them to begin is often longer than the parade itself. I'm not sure there is a point to a parade, really. Without my camera to capture odd bits passing buy, I just watched, snapping mental pictures that would have been awesome photos-- the fish that got away mentality.
Four towns drove fire equipment down the street, lights flashing, sirens screaming. As a kid I'd have loved it, I suppose, the sensory overload and all, but today I just thought, "God help us, and the surrounding towns, if there's a fire!"
Next, old cars. I guess a parade's a place to showcase vintage cars, and some must be beauties, if you appreciate cars. Which I don't. A skinny old man driving a sleek aqua something -- a Pontiac? -- came to a stop and revved the engine. It roared and people laughed. It didn't strike me the least bit funny, just kind of juvenile.
I leaned over to the lady next to me, and said, "And I'll bet as a teen he 'laid rubber.' Peeled out, squealed his tires, and all that."
She laughed. "That type drove me crazy," she said.
Then came an assortment of marchers: one band, a dance troupe, an art club, two town Selectmen, a state rep, horses, dogs in colorful scarves leashed to their owners-- the animals I like-- and a scraggly pack of Cub Scouts riding on a flatbed.
"Why aren't the marching?" whispers my husband, somewhat indignantly.
And I ask in return, "Where are they all?" A dying breed it appears--Boy Scouts.
Finally, floats from competing banks and local businesses-- thinly disguised advertising, of course. One display by "Patriotic Solutions," a plumbing company, which, according to the blurb on the truck, can flush away all your clogs and grease, featured a man sitting on a toilet reading a newspaper.
So, no, I'm not especially fond of parades. I don't see the point at all.
Afterward, I chatted with friends, acquaintances, and strangers, about the weather, art, politics, gas prices, pets, and more politics. I met a woman with a longhaired Chihuahua-- a four-pound handful wearing a tiny hooded sweatshirt. He could sit and shake hands just like a real dog. I patted 4H goats, and watched kids feed them straw. I talked to a man who whittled walking sticks, and another who made pottery, and watched people in the long line to buy fried dough.
It was much later in the rainy afternoon that I understood that parades bring people together for something besides Town Meeting. They provide a place for all ages to share a common event. They make us stop, and wait, and look around, and stand still long enough to smile and shake hands with others who share in our community.
What does that better than a parade?
I still don't love a parade. But I like what they do.
And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.~G. K. Chesterton quotes