The parade is a big deal.
And by "big deal", I mean a BIG DEAL.
I remember back in 1991 getting up early and making sure that I had plenty of time to get my bangs to optimal height, find the right outfit and find a place along the parade route to get a good view.
Yes, that's right, 1991 was the year that President George H.W. and Barbara Bush visited our county seat and walked in our parade. But seriously, it wasn't the Bush's that I was needing a good view of.
Nope, it was Steven, riding his horse in the parade as he did every year.
1979-Steven (2nd from right) at five years old, joined by his brother and two friends,
4th of July parade (picture from paper)
1985- Steven (on third horse from left) 11 years old, 4th of July parade
According to Wikipedia, my hometown "boasts the oldest Fourth of July celebration West of the Mississippi River and in the State of Missouri, which is the reason the First Family chose [my hometown] as a campaign stop on the nations' birthday".
"Boasts"? Is that what we are doing?
I can only remember one Fourth of July that I wasn't able to make it to the parade. I had to work in the Bakery/Deli at the grocery store and everyone came in after the parade getting ready to head to the remainder of their Fourth celebrations.
To say the least, I was bitter. Very bitter.
From that point on I vowed to never work another place that was not off on the Fourth.
Because, ya know, I had/have my priorities straight.
This year was no different than any other.
Same parade, same faces, same feel.
It is a reunion of sorts.
A reunion of a town.
This year alone I saw many classmates and friends that no longer live in the area. Actually, many no longer live in the state. But for the Fourth, and for the parade, they -along with many others- return "home".
The parade consists of school bands, horses, kids on decorated bikes, concrete trucks, wreckers, gas trucks and church floats. On a political year, the normally hour and a half parade can last two hours or more.
See why we need the lawn chairs?
Some hand out candy, others hand out a message.
Although the town is growing, I believe that it is here that you can still get a glimpse of "Small Town America". Pie eating contests, kids dressed in red, white and blue, spectators waving flags, and a feeling in the air that can only be described as "home". It is a tradition that is long standing in my family. Although my grandpa has probably attended as many parades as he has celebrated birthdays, at 90 years old, he didn't pass on the chance to attend another one.
I hope that my children remember these times and possibly, when they are older, incorporate these traditions into their own.
Because, really, is their any better feeling than that of family and home?
I can't think of one either.