I am not the type of person to stand idly by, but jump into situations with both feet; my solution for happiness is to be the participant, not the observer in life. While vacationing in a tiny town in New Hampshire this week, this was made abundantly clear amidst fireworks, balloons and extremely festive spirits! I had the pleasure of watching a small town 4th of July parade. Unlike more prominent parades in major cites where the crowds line the city streets 4 or 5 deep, standing and straining to get a better view, in THIS town, the crowds WERE the parade! A few people, including myself, sat in camp chairs in the shade, but our numbers paled in comparison to the participants in the parade; community members who obviously enjoyed this tradition throughout their lives in this town.
It goes without saying that everyone was dressed festively in red, white and blue hats, t-shirts, dresses, bathing suits and so forth. Balloons were afloat just as proudly as if they were in the Macy’s Parade. (Granted, it only took 1 person to hold each balloon, but each person DID hold on tight!) Whole families participated, and I envisioned life growing up in this town; first participating with the pregnant mom, who is waving the American flag and has her hair sprayed red, white and blue, to riding in the baby carriage adorned with balloons tied tightly and waving in the wind, to being pushed in the trike which has its handles and spokes decorated, to riding the bike wearing an Uncle Sam hat and flashing red, white and blue streamers,, to sashaying on the skateboard, trying to look “cool”, but thrilled to still be part of the family participation, to driving that shiny first teenager car ablaze with slogans and pulling a trail of tin cans, a few years “off” for college and young adult-hood, and then walking in the parade again, with the pregnant wife… The cycle of life as evidenced by the small town 4th of July parade.
In addition to the participation of families, there were many “floats”. They may not have been adorned with as many flowers as floats at the Rose Bowl Parade, but each float demonstrated a creativity and enthusiasm, including one where each holiday was depicted by an icon; Santa, Easter Bunny, Witch, New Year’s Baby (yes, dressed in a giant diaper carrying a giant baby bottle,) all waving American flags. There were floats with farm animals from the 4-H clubs, a float with a large cow being milked, a religious float with sheep and a shepherd, and one float with a giant steer which was quite inviting until I looked closer; it was advertising you could buy your own steer and then have enough meat for a year! (Fortunately, the steer looked happy and was unaware of the fate to come.) There were many musicians, including a lone violin player, dressed in a long skirt, (red, white and blue, of course, with a small balloon tied to the end of her violin.) She was playing and swaying and dancing, seemingly oblivious to the crowd. The antique cars made their appearance, joined by the town ambulance and fire trucks. Nothing says 4th of July more than the flashing red lights and sirens of these vehicles! (I had a momentary concern that the vehicles might be needed elsewhere while they were frolicking in the parade, this concern was tempered by the fact that everyone in the town was IN the parade, so they were actually appropriately placed!) Tractors drove by, with their green and yellow overshadowed by festive streamers, and the drivers wearing jeans with red, white and blue suspenders. Elderly people, waving red, white and blue Bingo cards, rode by in decorated golf carts, and a family of show offs rode gracefully by in Segways also appropriately decorated for the parade. (One could immediately tell that THAT family was not “native” to this simple town…)
Lastly, the piece de resistance for me was a lone, very tall, gentleman with a huge Uncle Sam Hat and an appropriate matching suit. He had a slight smile on his face as he lopped along, not quite marching. He did not turn to look at the crowd, but proudly walked tall, symbolizing the pride of this wonderfully, American town. He held a very long but thin dog leash. At the end of the leash was the tiniest dog I had ever seen…a miniature Chihuahua, smaller than the size of his shoe. It, too, was walking proud, and I swear I saw a smile on its face…
In this town, as in many other towns across American, these folks were not just observers on this holiday, but they were the participants; the main attraction. They ARE America!
To read more about our life, here is a link to my book:
Link to the Readers Digest review of my book: http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/