Saturday, July 5, 2008

I (don't) love a parade~

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


Wanda said...

You said it all so well, Ruth ~~~ and I totally agree it brings people together.....

.....but I still love a parade.

LOL:) Wanda

Tere said...

I also am not a fan of parades. But any chance to observe people, ahhh, I love that. And so do you, go on, admit it.

Alice Folkart said...

The end was a complete surprise - but you did describe the parade here that I didn't go to. Unlike mad dogs and Englishmen, I don't go out in the midday sun, especially not here, not even with sunscreen and an umbrella. It was hot! Everyone said it was hotg! But, as you so beautifully point out, it's a great opportunity for politicians, local businesses and the scouts and school marching bands. I could have marched with two different, no, make that three different organization, but stayed home and finished writing a story instead. But, my husband went, and he got to be brought together with people, and that's a good thing, and, now, he thinks he knows more than I do about the local scene. Good.

I'm sort of glad that you didn't take your camera - who knows what you would have missed why peering through the view finder - what might have fallen outside the frame.

Happy 5th

Janice Thomson said...

It's worse if you are a store that's open and the parade marches past on your street. You have to be on the constant lookout for theft as many people come in while waiting for the parade to start. Then there's all the stuff left on your doorstep from kids and adults(and dogs!)after. Many people with sticky-fingered children come in touching this and that and leaving marks on the merchandise from chocolate bars and gum and hot dogs and sticky drinks - even though there's huge signs saying no food or drinks allowed. And everyone needs the washroom...Stores should be closed on that day.
Just another side of the coin that maybe is not thought of too often :)

Pauline said...

Funny - I got down to the next to last paragraph and thought to myself, "She just told herself the point," and you wrapped it up by saying so yourself :)

The only part of a parade I really like is the marching band. The drum beats get in my blood and I wish (for the millionth time) that I was a drummer. I took lessons for awhile but I just don't have the manual dexterity. So, I listen and tap my fingers against my leg and let the drums do their magic thing to my blood and wait til the next 4th of July parade.

Ross Eldridge said...

Hi Ruth:

I used to be scared of parades as, in Bermuda, they always featured clowns. I hate clowns! They always, again in Bermuda, featured surly majorettes who were NOT very good. They still have bad-tempered females stomping down the streets there. A clown might have a painted smile, a majorette has none.

Floral "floats" in the Easter Parade became tissue and (as you mention) means of advertising.

In Bermuda, the horses were usually near the beginning of the parade ... You know what that means ...

However, I do find a well-drilled military parade with a marching band not only exciting, but stirring. We do those quite well in England. My heart very nearly bursts at a military tattoo.

As a boy, I was fascinated to watch Leni Riefenstahl's film of the Nuremberg Rally. To be honest, it still knocks me out.

For me, at least, a parade needs precision and order.

And, yes, I love to watch the faces in the crowd. Except the clown faces. When I see those, I shudder and move away. Ugh!

Happy Holidays!


Ruth D~ said...

Wanda~ I see you, with your sunshine personality loving most anything. That's special

Tere~ I'm a born eavesdropper. :>)

Alice~ Your husband comment makes me laugh (Sigh). Go stomp through the waves. Your camera comment is wisdom itself. "Outside the frame" I'll have to make sure I don't miss that.

Pauline~ Funds didn't allow for a genuine marching band. I do like those, but they are usually taking a break when the march past me. Then of course they start up again, but the sound is fading.

Ross~ No clowns! I agree about the military band. Something about the precision and the pomp of it all . . . but we're talking small town here. Scraggley marching these days. People shuffle rather than stay in step.

Isadora said...

:) Understand what you mean about the wait being longer and that part I don't like either. You know, there have always been parades and there will probably always will be. You do like them :) but resent not having had your camera with you. There is next time. Have a great week.

Momma said...

I'm with you on parades. We happened to be in Gettysburg on Memorial Day and had a front-and-center seat to the parade. It was hot, and I kept thinking, "How is it that no one has fallen over from heatstroke yet?" I don't like parades, circuses, or anything like that, but I agree that they do bring people together. That in itself is nice, I suppose, but I still don't like the whole reality of it.

Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday. I'll add you to my blog reader so I can keep up!

Peace - D

sc morgan said...

Yup,we must be sisters… parades are not a favorite of mine either. You have captured all the reasons why. I don't know about Ross' clowns in Bermuda but the ones favored here in Costa Rica give me the heebie-jeebies. Men dressed as young girls. They are very creepy!

Carter said...

I've never liked parades, except when I used to march in them. That was because they put us on a train and took us somewhere, which was a nice change. I well remember once marching in one in mid-winter--I think it was for a Navy football game. I wore a Navy officers' overcoat that weighed about fifteen pounds--that was before nylon or all that good light stuff, and this one was wool. A lot of wool. It kept me warm, but my shoulders hurt before the parade was over. If you march, you have to get there way early and then they organize things, and then, if it's a city, something stops the parade and you stand there waiting to go, not knowing how long that will be. This happens several times in every parade.

Kind of fun in the high school band, too, but I found it really hard to play a clarinet while marching.

And I just remembered--the Gay Pride parades in Boston are always fun. Weird costumes on some floats, nice ladies and gents marching in various "we're friends of the gays" groups, including some churches that welcome them. I always know some of the guys and we wave madly.

Same thing, really--a chance for people to get together. I usually meet somebody to talk to at the GP parades.

Is a peace march the same as a parade? It feels like it physically, but the attitudes and feelings are very different--we always know it's futile. The crowds turn out for those, too, but they don't seem to change things much. I liked marching in the last one I was in, even so. People pointed and shouted and waved when they saw my crappy everybody-got-them medals. They like to have veterans in those parades. You do what you can.

conversekj said...

Oh Ruth, I'm disappointed. You don't like parades?

Parades are for the kids -- the excitement of grabbing that piece of candy before your sibling gets to it; jumping, climbing and sliding down the huge inflatables; the middle-schoolers who walk in packs, on their own for a couple of hours, away from parents.

Parades remind adults about our veterans and help parents incorporate a spirit of patriotism within their children.

But, like you wrote at the end (finally!), it's to build community. And to get to the food stand before the peach pie runs out!

As you can probably tell, our town has a wonderful celebration -- but we work at it. High school reunions are held; an 11-mile run/ride around the lake is held; the parade includes heritage walk to celebrate the ethnic backgrounds of our community who are originally from Mexico, Sudan, Laos; we raise more than $25,000 for entertainment, fireworks, and expenses. And this year, a special walk was organized on July 5th to raise $$ for a teenager who's dying from an unknown/untreatable illness -- 250 pre-registered walkers with a free lunch and hour-long concert by a nationally-known accapella group at the end.

In our community, the fourth of July is not only the parade and fireworks. And maybe that's the Midwest or the small town for you ... and maybe you'll enjoy parades more in the future when you have grandchildren to share them with :)

Have a good day -- this sure wasn't meant to be a rant -- sorry --