We got up early on the 4th and took Jude to his first parade. He watched the old fashioned cars and police motorcycles with interest, then had a bottle and fell asleep on the blanket at our feet. It was hot; he left a sweaty spot on the blanket when we picked him up later to go home. We left poor George at home because have yet to figure out how to handle him and baby on outings at the same time.
The parade was fun – reportedly 35,000 people in attendance – and there were a few unusual parade entries to keep things interesting: a group of Star Wars characters complete with an R2D2 and a whole squadron of storm troopers who marched with their blasters, and a local bug company who featured a man in a bug suit who kept getting beat up by the company’s uniformed pest controllers.
I marched in my hometown’s annual Fall parade many times, as a clown with the Girl Scouts, as the 4-H fair queen in the back of a white convertible, and on my bike with friends.
The year we rode our bikes, I was about 10 years old. One section of the parade was always a place where kids were allowed to ride their bikes, to be a part of the parade even if they didn’t have an affiliation with any parade participant. That year, two of my friends and I decided to decorate our bikes and join in. We planned to meet in their yard on the morning of the parade, so the night before, I referred to my favorite book Kids’ America and painstakingly copied the way they suggested to decorate a bike – with several rows of red, white, and blue streamers woven through the spokes, streamers hanging from the handlebars, and a large sign stuck to the handlebars that read “Spirit of America” in red glitter.
The next morning I rode my bike up the hill to discover that my friends had only put a few streamers through their spokes. My bike was over-decorated. I saw them look at the colors and the glitter and I felt embarrassed. And I guess a little disappointed, too. It would not be the last time in my life that I would put 100% into a project only to have those around me participate half-heartedly.
I rode my bike in the parade anyway. Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t take off even one of the streamers. And someday if Jude wants to decorate his bike for a parade, I hope he will go all out and be proud of his effort, even if no one else puts in the time. It’s important to care about things, to get excited about things, to participate 100%. It’s something to be proud of.