Most of my family (including out of town grandkids) runs in the races while I set out blueberry donuts from the local farm grocery store, and put up the coffee. Friends, relatives and neighbors start setting up their lawn chairs early (and bringing goodies to share) around 8:00 a.m. The parade always begins at 10:10. I think the odd time allows the kids to finish their race.
The Police block the streets to traffic while the paraders line up in the county fairgrounds two doors down from my home.
By 9:30, people jam both sides of the street with lawn chairs, wagons and strollers. Most everyone is wearing some combination of red, white and blue. Stars are everywhere, too, especially in the eyes of the youngest kids when the Grand Master’s car appears and the sirens wail.
Local politicians and businesses send representatives to toss candy along the route. Local charities, churches and non-profits build floats. Kids on their decorated bikes. We have miniature ponies, bagpipers and clowns. The High School Band performs their best numbers. Dance schools, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Kiwanis, 4-H, local antique car clubs all march, roll, or cartwheel past.
Lest we all forget the parade’s purpose, veterans groups file past in formation, reminding us to hold our flags and our heads high and proud. Proud of our accomplishments, proud of our potential, and proud of our children.
As I get older, I realize more and more that our crazy world is full of paradoxes. I’m thankful for my home town where I can feel its smallness and its greatness at the same time.