My grandson and I went to our small town Independence Day Parade this morning. We arrived after the parade had begun, but I had parked near the end of their route, so none of the groups had passed our location yet. I found a lovely spot in the shade very near my parking spot and parked the stroller strategically to take advantage of the then-clear view of the parade route. I looked forward to sharing with our little guy the importance of American independence, a lesson we’ll repeat to him many times through life, but a special focus on this, the fourth of July.
The woman next to me instantly struck up a conversation, and I anticipated a lovely experience. UNTIL the floats and bands came our way complete with candy throwers. I love the candy throwers, for the record, and I am not among the naysayers who would rather do away with the yummy delights to help the children focus instead on the meaning for each celebratory parade. However, today I came close to joining their forces.
The sweet lady next to me turned into everything wrong about parades, and I immediately nominated her president of the I-Missed-the-Point Club. As I tried to explain to our little man who the Veterans of Foreign Wars were and what the Knights of Columbus do, and that perhaps he would get to attend summer theater some day, she grabbed her plastic grocery bag and pushed her children out into the street screaming “Candy” at full voice, right between us and our view of the fire trucks, band, and horses.
Eventually dissatisfied with the amount of candy she and her brood scored, she resorted to walking up to the doors of their floats, trucks, tractors (you get the point) and shoving her bag into their faces and yelling, “Candy!” Her children did not disappoint in following her lead.
They were also very giving little beggars, so by the handful, they filled our little tyke’s bag to the brim, a bag they supplied by the way. I had intended to let him grab a few pieces here and there, but instead, we came home with a bulging grocery bag that we quickly placed out of reach.
So what is the point she missed so badly? I’m actually thankful we parked beside her for the time I spent analyzing what went so wrong in her perspective; that analysis forced me to examine my own. The small town parade is a cultural experience that displays all that is good in a community: historical societies, Chambers of Commerce, public servants, philanthropic groups, garden clubs, a literal parade of people committed to their little part of the world and making it better for everyone in their area. It also demonstrates how the smaller community fits into a broader culture, where cities and towns around the nation celebrate the same holiday by memorializing an important event, or the contribution of a group of people. For one hour, neighbors put aside their differences, wave their flags, and yes, race to collect candy, and America is better for it.
…and that’s the view from My Front Porch