Like a bazillion other people in small towns across America (and probably some not-so-small towns as well) we attended our local 4th of July parade yesterday morning. While I doubt our parade is any better or any worse than anyone else's, it is near and dear to my heart, simply for the longevity of how many times I've attended with my family.
I have no idea what year they started doing our 4th of July parade, but I marched in it myself when I was in high school with our local marching band .... about twenty-five years ago. Even prior to THAT, my parents hooked a trailer up to my dad's pickup truck on 1976 (Centennial Year!) and we RODE in the parade .... wish I could find some pictures of that! The parade route is a couple of miles, from downtown to a local park, where a carnival/fair/arts and crafts show/greasy food/music performances/fireworks display all take place throughout the day and into the night. I even played in the community band for a few years in my (MUCH) younger days, when I was still athletic enough to actually hold an instrument without dropping it. Yesterday, I watched the parade and thought I would probably die if I tried to walk that distance in the heat at this stage of my life. So I sat in a chair and enthusiastically waved my American flag --- pretty much the limit of my physical endurance. (Um, didn't I just join a gym recently?? And is it obvious that I haven't gone since my kids got out of school!?!?)
Used to, Blaine and I would purposely plan our vacations home to coincide with the fourth so we could go to the celebration in the park. It was a great opportunity for us to see old friends while we were in town, and it truly had the feel of a small-town festival. I'm just enough of a Norman-Rockwell-geek to love it.
Then someone, somewhere, got the idea that it would be swell to really beef up the festival. Bring in more rides for the kids, and instead of the community band, hire actual professionals to perform. And instead of our local firefighters shooting off fireworks once it got dark, they hired a pyrotechnic company for a bigger, more exciting show. They renamed it The Freedom Festival, and added things like car shows, and 5k races, and a donkey softball game. And you know, it was all good and well, but it lost the small-town reunion feeling that we loved so much. It's billed as one of the largest fireworks shows in the state, and there are literally thousands, tens of thousands of people that attend.
Quite frankly, while I think it's great for our town, it makes me sad. So now, we just go to the parade, and spend the day with family and friends.
I guess it's official: I've turned into one of those people who talk about "the good ole' days."
Here's a little trip down memory lane:
1986. I had been dating this guy, "Blaine", for almost a year. He was ok; things were going pretty well; even if he did have plans to join the military and if he even so much as thought for an instant that I would leave my family and my home town to join him, well, he had another thing coming. In the meantime, there are a few things about this picture that confuse me. First of all, I'm holding a beer bottle. I don't even LIKE beer, I never have. I'd as soon drink lighter fluid ... yet there I am, offending bottle in hand. And why is my belt on the outside of my sweater? And dear heavens, is that a she-mullet I'm sporting????
1993. Enjoying the parade with my family on what is the equivalent of our "Main Street", downtown. Wow, my sister and I are still hanging on to that 80's big hair, aren't we? Blaine, I'm pretty sure, was taking the picture.
1996. Same family, plus one nephew at this point. I think we're in the same truck, in the same spot downtown. I told you, we're creatures of habit.
1996. I really love this picture, not because it's so fabulous, but because that is the church we were married at in the background. I'm telling you, my small-town-ness is almost scary at some points. I also love this picture because (here's where the small-town-ness isn't scary, but wonderful, and proof of God's hand in our lives) when we submitted our "profile" to the adoption agency, we included this very picture. Brayden's birthmom, who is from the same small town, told me one of the reasons she picked us was because she knows exactly where this church is ... in fact, attended the same school I did which is just across the street. All I have to do is look at my daughter to know my small-town life was perfect.
1997. So, the next year, we introduced our daughter to the beauty that was the 4th of July festival. Truly, eating KFC over your baby daughter's head is a sign of true class, don't you think? Brayden doesn't look too impressed.
1997. She doesn't look any more impressed to be snuggling with Grandma Betty for the fireworks that night.
2000. Wow, she might be even less impressed than ever. This was the festival at the park, waiting for the concert to start. This was also the year we fought crowds the entire day, waited in lines to get our kids on rides, battled a ridiculous amount of traffic trying to leave the park that night after the fireworks, and never went back.
2002. But, we continued to do the parade every year, and the kids loved it.
We haven't actually been to the parade in a few years and I've missed it. Blaine and Kendrie got sick and we didn't travel as much, and one year we missed it because we timed our vacation wrong .... last year we were watching another small-town parade, in Skagway, Alaska ... you get the picture. But this year, our first year home, we were BACK! And I hope this will be the first of many more to come, and that my children will grow up with the same fond memories of this parade as I have.
Or not. They don't look too impressed here, do they? I'm telling you, those global warming people might just be on to something. I thought I was going to melt yesterday. But check out the captions on the photo, and you'll see just how small-town some of us are.
And just to give you an idea of how much I love this parade, I give you the following evidence:
We have the fire department,
and horses. (Hey, this IS Oklahoma, after all.)
Of course, we have the typical:
and old-timey fire trucks.
Oh, sure, we have all the usual --- floats, clowns, marching bands, etc. I think my kids favorite part was seeing so many classmates in the parade, marching with boy scout troops, church groups, local gymnastic and dance teams, little league teams, etc. Personally these are some of my favorite:
People driving plows,
and even riding lawn-mowers.
THIS guy, is our neighbor ... wonder if he could bring that get up to the next block party for a sumo wrestling match or something???
A guy who ran out of gas half-way through the parade,
And in case THAT doesn't convince you how uptown we are ... check this out:
On second thought, maybe I DON'T want my kids to have fond memories of every little part.