I love a parade

watching the paradeMy cynical, hardened, don’t-F-with-me-on-the-A-train New York exterior is all a facade. I admit it. Inside, there’s a girl with a thing for the Fourth of July and all its trappings. Especially small-town parades.

In the Vermont town we’re staying this week, spitting distance from the Canadian border, they happen to have this very thing. It opened with an adorable young woman in a gazebo at the mic, stalling for time while the sweaty crowd sat waiting for clowns on ATVs, maybe some Shriners.

“So…have you heard the one about the liberty bell? It cracked me up! Okay, wait…I’ve got another one…”

Next she introduced Eva, who did a fine Christina Aguillera National Anthem impression. Not the good singing part–just the skipping all the lyrics part. She went from Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early light right into the bit about the ramparts, and the crowd was kind enough to skip right along with her.

(Why does everyone always want to get to the ramparts so quickly? No one even knows what a rampart is. I have never seen a rampart, I’ll tell you that much. Although if I did, I would be sure to tell it that it is very popular with amateur National Anthem singers who never want to sing about hailing the flag or the twilight’s last gleaming or even the perilous fight, when really, they can just skip right to the ramparts.)

I have no idea who Eva is, but I know she loves singing, and she loves her country and George M Cohan, and the crowd seemed to love her right back.

Not two minutes after the parade finally kicked off, we learned that the thing to do now in a small-town parade is to throw candy. Which means if you’re a kid, the parade becomes less about flags and waving to the fire engines and girls driving the pink Barbie cars, less about America and flags and baton twirling, and more about stuffing your pockets with candy.

The kids were mostly polite, though I did witness a few bouts of Extreme Full-Contact Candy Scavenging. (Yeah, I saw what you did, kid in the blue baseball cap with the glasses. Don’t think I didn’t.) Sage, no match for the bigger kids around her, stood patiently with her hands stretched in front of her and her palms cupped upward, just hoping just one marcher would toss a strawberry Tootsie Roll right into her sweaty hands. Fortunately, a few did. I know this because they are currently melting at the bottom of my purse.

We were having a grand old time chasing candy and cheering and waving to shriners and clowns and the guy driving a Conestoga wagon and chasing more candy–until a pro-life high school club marched by. Which…awkward. This is liberal New England-y Vermont after all, the fourth state to legalize gay marriage. The one saving grace was that clearly every boy in that club was gay (if not aware of it just yet), so there was kind of a way to justify clapping for them if you really felt obligated. And I say that not as a jab, but as a reasonable observation informed by 8 years living across from the Stonewall Tavern.

Fortunately none of them threw candy. That would have been weird.

Judgment day is coming! Jesus sees all! Have a Blow Pop!

We applauded the clowns, the shriners in fezzes (they really exist!), the firetrucks, the vets (yay vets!) , and the little girls riding ponies. We applauded the guy on stilts and the “World’s Longest Cadillac Procession” which I think only had about 5 cars in it. We even applauded some woman who dyed her poodle pink–which is not actually one of the American flag colors, so hopefully it was not just for this occasion.

The greatest moment of the entire parade though, might have been the blue-vested Girl Scout troop handing out squeeze-ice to all the kids along the route; in their perfectly Girl Scout-y way, they made sure every kid who wanted one, had one. That right there is your Thin Mint money being put to excellent use.

Finally, it closed out with an awesome progressive performance troop called Bread and Puppet, which believes in Cheap Art, political absurdity, and not shaving one’s armpits. My mother would love them.

I have no doubt they were having a grand old time wondering just what to do with the pro-life club when they all reached the fairgrounds together.

God, I love a good small-town parade.

flag waving


26 thoughts on “I love a parade”

  1. When you were about three we went to a Thanksgiving Parade in Washington, DC. Somewhere in the archives of my mind is a picture of you, too, holding a flag. But that was DC, not small town Vermont, which I suspect is better. Small town parades are great because most everyone knows the marchers and the marchers know the watchers. And candy is good. Happy 4th, Family.

  2. Heh. Just yesterday, at our friend’s house before going to view fireworks, I waited until the 9 year old left the room to mention that we were pretty sure he was straight — and yes, our friends (a gay couple) immediately knew what I meant and quickly agreed.

    His chosen outfit was his new green and brown and white plaid shorts (cool ones, you know, like his older bros wear) with a two shades of red horizontal striped shirt. Honestly, though, it looked better than the other day when he wore it with a fire-engine red with white stripes shirt.

  3. You’re in my old stomping grounds! Making me homesick. Bread and Puppet used to have a wild festival every year until it got out of hand.

  4. Yes, and at the parade in DC, at the age of 3, you proudly peed through your new panties onto the street. Fortunately you did not spray any of the oncoming marchers. Unfortunately, there was no candy. Glad to know you’re doing it up right in Vermont. Grill some red meat for me (oh, you already did)!

  5. OK, I am DYING to know where you were! I am from VT myself, St Johnsbury, parents live in East Burke, family sprinkled all over – Newark, Danville, Glover, Sheffield…) You HAD to be close, as Bread and Puppet is just outside of Glover (I believe?!).

    It is both beautiful and …odd there. I am in love with it as long as I VISIT and do not reside. I hope that you are enjoying the hell out of it.

    I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE your blog!!!

      1. Barton IS beuatiful and very close to “my peeps”. (I used to play bridge there twice a month with local senior citizens. I was the only person under 64. Fabulous!) Heading up Wednesday myself and can’t be more ready for the “dial down”….clean air that makes you sleepy, warm days and cool nights, the SMELL, MY GOD THE SMELL…the sound of the gurgling brook across the street from Grammie’s house…. Next time I go, let me know, I can TOTALLY HOOK YOU UP with locations of perfection.

        Welcome home!

  6. Oh you so would have loved our small town parade. Tractors, a military tank, horses and cowbells. And the candy. Oh my the candy. My kids are still munching on the amount of candy they scavenged from the streets.

    (Tis the only time of the year I actively encourage them to eat the gum on the road.)

    Happy days to you Liz.

  7. I love a good small town parade. Since we’ve moved to the city I feel like you have to wait hours for the parade to start just to get a good spot! Glad to hear you had a Happy 4th!

  8. Normally, we return to Palm Beach for July 4th as it’s as “small town” as it gets……and the fireworks are great. This year, we were in NYC……..not the same thing.

  9. Awww! I grew up in a town that threw that kind of parade– candy-throwing and all. I used to decorate my bike with streamers and ride along. One year I rode on the Baptist Church float, dressed as a Pilgrim (???) And one memoable year, I was Smurfette. Let me tell you, those mascot heads are HOT (as in temperature, not Paris Hilton) and hard to see out of– I kept wandering off-route into the crowds, and had to be helped back to the street.

    Good times.

    Happy Fourth!

  10. Ah yes the candy. How I miss small time parades for that reason! Plus, it might make my kids actually interested in the fourth of July after all holidays with candy are the best holidays of all.

  11. I have to say, I read a lot of blogs. And all this time reading I have never once made a comment. But I just could not read one more of your posts without commenting on just how amazingly talented you are. Your writing is so wonderful, I actually feel as if I am there with you on all these adventures. Please keep writing and I’ll keep writing and maybe just maybe I’ll comment 😉

  12. We didn’t get to go to parade this year. Thanks for taking us to yours. 🙂 It sounds great! Happy belated 4th!

  13. A prolife group marching in a 4th of July parade in vermont – comprised primarly of gay men who may or may not have been throwing candy?

    I can see why this was blog-worthy.

    Oh, and as a fellow NYer: Don’t ever f–k with me on the 6-train. The A is all yours.

  14. That photo is awesome. I too love small town parades and the 4th of July. The ONE thing I’ll miss about living in New England.

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