It’s Memorial Day. Parades are a quintessential part of the day.
As a kid here in my hometown, the parade was a family outing. We would all go up to City Hall and watch as the bands came marching by. The parade always wound itself into the cemetery where it would stop at the veterans memorial to pay homage to those that sacrificed their lives for this country. A lone bugler off in the distance would play Taps. It was always a somber moment. In those days, we were treated to the Marine Corps band, straight from Quantico Virginia. They were so impressive. So sharp in their dress uniforms, crisp creases, perfectly straight hats, movements that were completely in sync. There were the usual array of elected officials, the local Judge (and former Mayor) was always among the marchers. There were large groups of veterans from the various wars and columns of police officers and fire fighters. Even the school crossing guard ladies marched! And then came the kids….Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Brownies. The local high school band marched with the mascot Tiger leading the way. There were mounted police and trick horses. The various Elks, Moose, Masons and other assorted groups marched. And Little League kids as far as you could see, followed closely by the dancing school girls. And then came the cars…the fancy ones, the old ones, the ones carrying the Gold Star mothers and the Grand Marshall…always a local hero.
Along the way peddlers pulled their carts carrying balloons, horns and every toy that lit up and sparkled. Children rushed to the cart to buy their favorite items. And of course a balloon would get free and float to the sky leaving a very sad child behind. The ice cream man came along and rocket pops, ice cream sandwiches, creamsicles and fudgsicles were on the menu. Always so hard to make a choice! It was Americana at it’s best.
Today I went to the local parade with my bff T. And for sure none of this parade harkened me back to “the old days”. Sure, the Police Honor Guard led the parade, of course following the float with the giant bell that signals the parade is coming. And then it all went wrong. There were the local officials, the Mayor wearing red and glad handing as she went along. The bands….it’s hard to call them that. There were musicians walking in small groups, no real uniforms, nothing crisp and in sync. There were a few dancing kids and a small contingent of scouts and ligerbot teams. There were LOTS of big trucks that seemed to have no real purpose. There was a float for the late Stan Lee….we are still trying to figure that out. Notably missing was the Fire Dept Honor Guard and some shiny new fire trucks. There were some minutemen (and women) and a few horses. There were some go carts driven by kids wearing red, white and blue pajamas (that’s what they looked like). There was a stilt walker and Pat Patriot and some unicycle riders….and tow trucks and landscape companies with beds full of mulch and fake gardens planted. And then there was the fruit and vegetable band. I mean really, what’s a parade with out a carrot, a banana and a pepper?
And then it was over. And we left wondering how it came to this point that our local parade is a shadow of it’s former self? The day is all about honoring those that fought and died for our freedom. And today, I barely saw a veteran at all. But I will return to this parade next year because after all…”I love a parade”!