It was the Fourth of July Parade and this time we were in a small town west of here, in a town belonging to someone else. We packed our separate memories of past parades with us as we headed to this parade on First Street. For my kids, their parades memories happened on Third Avenue twenty-two miles east of here and my own childhood parades took place four hours north of here on Central Avenue. Each year my parents packed the pink station wagon with five kids – girls wearing new red P F Flyers and their brothers in cowboy boots. A basket of sandwiches wrapped in wax paper and mason jars of cool lemonade made it possible to “come to town”.
And now, here we were in a town without a Central Avenue, making new memories. Something brand new for us! We strung our chairs in a row across the intersection from where the town cop was still working to keep the intersection clear. We had our backs to the sun and a barricade behind us. And the row of young men behind us were concealing
weapons water balloons. This promised to be a good parade!
Boy scouts on unicycles, World War II vets in Army jeeps, Morgan horses pulling wagons. Volunteer fire trucks from every small town within the three closest counties. I sat in my chair trying to not think about what would happen if a wild fire sparked in the countryside before the parade ended. Some things never change. Parades can bring the worry out in me. Back in my day, I was afraid of the clowns. But when my second brother told me only boys could grow up to be clowns, I decided then and there I would prove him wrong. Someday I’d be a clown even if it killed me.
I caught myself counting the fire trucks: Stillwater, Carbon, Yellowstone. . .Nye! Even the fire truck from Nye was here! Before I could digest that bit of worrisome news the water balloons and water pistols took over the show. And then there were the reigning baseball champions to whistle for and the Great Dane Club dogs to pet as they plodded past. And then the man on stilts and then the radio station floats. And then the old farm tractors from the 1940s came by with so much noise a person could hardly think. So much commotion at once, it was going to be hard to remember it all!
Afterward we tracked down our favorite Mexican cart of food and got in line for cerviche and enchiladas. We were sporting new sunburns, wet clothes and satisfied grins, trading stories to make new memories of this parade. One of us loved the Great Danes the most (my son), one of us thought the baby in the ruby red slippers was the sweetest (my daughter), one of us cheered the loudest when the Dodgers Bus drove by (that’d be my son’s future mother-in-law), and one of us howled like a wolf when the man approached her with a microphone from his Wolf 105.9 radio station asking if she knew how to howl. And she did – she knew how. And first she had to howl by herself, but then, because it was probably killing her, everyone on her side of the street joined in.