Why I Love A Parade, Sort Of


I attended the Swamp Fox parade today in Marion, Iowa, and it was what you expect of such a parade.

A few bands.  Lots of cars, some cool and old, some merely borrowed because they are convertibles.

Clowns.  Even though I know many goodhearted people are clowns, still, when you encounter them, why do they always seem a little creepy?

Shriners.  Even though I know many goodhearted people are Shriners, yadda yadda, you know the rest.

Candy. Lots of candy. I don’t recall in my youth that parades were such love fests of sugar, and I’m not wild about the trend.  I was attending the parade with three cute grandchildren (and their mother), and we were near Marion High School, the starting point, which meant bags were full and ammo was aplenty for sweets chuckers.

Lots of sweets got chucked in my general direction, granted, none intended for me, but I am of mixed mind about being pelted with sweets.  Tootsie Rolls are OK in small numbers, but the parade quickly exceeded my TR capacity.  Smarties, ditto, and they smart more, too.

And I always worry a bit.  Some youth groups were full of very poor candy tossers, with the result that the candy was left only vaugely near the side of the road—much in the middle of the street, there apparently just as trodding fodder.  As I note in my movie, it feels a bit as if the street were being baited to draw small children into the way of horses and tractors and Shriners and clowns other creepy things.

Well, before you say “bah, humbug,” let me clarify that I think parades (and Shriners and clowns, for that matter) are fine.  A dandy piece of Americana.

But, I think it helps to be the right age to appreciate the charms of a parade, and I’m definitely not in the parade demographic anymore.  Perhaps when I’m older, particularly if I could arrange a parade to pass by a beer garden where the limes are nice, the Corona is cold and I’ve passed by my third bottle or so—then, I think, a parade would be much more charming.

And it was fun to watch it with grandkids.  Tristan got the idea, quickly, that candy was a projectile weapon, and while parade participants were busy tossing sweets to him, he had the chutzpah to return fire vigorously.

And it was a bit fun to see groups of cheerleaders and dance academies.  You do wonder, a bit, why.  Why are these activities so important that they attract time and treasure, and there aren’t say, youth drama troupes passing by?  Hmmm.  The churches got to me, after a while.  Something about the awkwardly costumed characters just soured me on organized religion.  They were down there hawking salvation like the politicians who were pushing pamphlets to voters.

Sigh.

Anyway, it was a bright, warm day, the parade was fun even if candy-filled and I did like the spectacle of it.  I look forward to enjoying more in the future—especially as my grandkids get into prime parade years, say 6 to 8 or so.

Skyped with Amanda today, and she noted that they had been to one British parade in Norwich, England, where they live–and it was fun simply because in the UK they don’t follow small-town American parade conventions, and after seeing drag queens and dragons, she felt the exhilarating experience of wondering “what could possibly be next?”

Maybe that’s what the Swamp Fox needs.  Some surprises.  Throw in some drag queens and dragons. Or serve more Corona.

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