Thursday, June 18, 2015

Memories of the 4th of July - I hate parades

Most everyone knows the meaning of the 4th of July. This is the day we call Independence Day. It is a federal holiday here in the United States which commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. It is a very significant day in the history of the United States. However, whenever I think of this holiday, I think of how much I hate parades.

The 4th of July parade
For most of us, this day is not celebrated by reading the document or recalling the Revolutionary War. Instead of that, many of us go to parades. The parade starts around 11 AM. People tend to flock to the sidewalks at the beginning or the end of the parade route. This allows for a quick getaway when it ends.

The police block off the route around 30 minutes before the starting time of the “event”. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to arrive early but if you want a curb seat, you will need to. July weather can get pretty hot. Standing or sitting around for the 30 minutes prior to the parade in 80 degree heat is not fun and will only get worse as the day progresses and the temperature goes up to 90 degrees.

Parade goers
Many people go to the parade up to an hour or more early to get the best seat possible. They spread out a blanket and set up chairs and plop. As the parade gets close to starting, more and more people gather. There were 9,000 people at the one I went to last year. 

The early goers guard the area that they have staked out to prevent intruders. Anyone that comes near the blanket is promptly yelled at. If someone sits on the curb in front of the blanket they are not so politely asked to move. This can be quite interesting. How could it be fun to go through this? An objective observer might think the president or a movie star is going to drive by.

Most parades are made up of car after truck after car slowly driving by. Each one has a sponsor’s sign on the side. I am not why these sponsors participate. Here are some possible reasons:

  • They paid to drive two miles per hour through town with their sign prominently displayed.
  • They were asked to participate with the ability to display an advertisement as an incentive.
  • They love to fake smile and wave as they drive two miles per hour through the town.

Many of the sponsors are politicians who either ride in the vehicle or walk in the crowd shaking hands with anyone who makes eye contact. Some of the vehicles are pretty cool but most of them are fairly ordinary. Sometimes, there is a float or two. 

Another staple is fire trucks. The firemen turn their sirens to the loudest possible setting. I’m not sure if there is a volume control but if there is, it is full tilt. Many of the smaller children hate these but they are outnumbered so the sirens will be as loud as can be.

After the first wave of cars and trucks, the marchers come through. The temperature is rising so they are going to be hot. The people who march in the parade are a mixed bag but generally are kids’ sports teams, dance teams, karate clubs, etc. accompanied by their adult coaches or parents. Little of this will pass for entertainment. The kids don’t appear to have fun either. A dressed up guy on stilts is interesting for around 10 seconds. There are usually veterans who participate, as well.

The kids sit miserably for the first hour or so. It is hot and there is nothing for them to do. People are all over so any activities are limited. The only thing they really look forward to is scooping up the candy. Well, a recent trend in parades has been to limit the candy that is thrown out. No candy even makes an appearance until around noon. That means they have sat through and watched all the slow moving vehicles for 90 minutes with little to do. When the candy does come, it is usually penny candy that goes uneaten.

This year, I think I’ll just stay home.

Happy 4th of July!

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