July 4th in My Hometown

Today, after lunch, my brother-in-law decided he wanted to see the 4th of July parade. This event takes place every year in my hometown, where I am today with my sister and her husband and my parents. The truth is that for many years—though my parents live a block from downtown, where the parade takes place—I didn’t go to it. I’m not a big parade person. I never watch the famous parades on television. I’m not a crowds person, either.

But my parents were going, led by my brother-in-law, and my sister and I reluctantly agreed to tag along, as this is what we try to do to keep the Cawood mob together.

Fortunately, it was fairly easy to find room on the sidewalk to prepare to gawk. There were lots of families plopped on the curb, and others who had dragged chairs from their trunks and set them up on either side of Xenia Avenue, the town’s main thoroughfare. Still, there were plenty of gaps where we could stand and see the show.

It wasn’t until it started that I remembered what a good show it was.

The cop car led the parade. Only in a small town would people wave and clap as the squad car crawled by. Woo hoo! And only in this particular small town would the cop car then lead this particular ragtag line of parade participants that included a couple of anti-drug cyclists (one with a sign that read, “Buy coffee, not drugs”), rainbow-painted cars, a woman carrying a sign about the holy spirit, antique cars and an old beat-up truck, golf carts, peace-goers, theater kids, political activists, a big ol’ schoolbus publicizing the local library (“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader”), and a hearse advertising recycled bicycles.

People cheered and applauded every parade participant as if each one was the Brad Pitt of Yellow Springs. 

I got to see old friends and meet some new ones, as happens in a small town. But best of all, this mishmash of people reminded me why I love my hometown and why I love my diverse, crazy, colorful country, and why I am grateful to live in a part of the world where it is at least possible on some days to fly your freak flag and know the policeman is clearing the road ahead to make sure you will pass through safely.