Thursday, July 6, 2006

As American As The Fourth

Politicians, floats and marching bands are the usual mainstays of parades on the Fourth of July.  The parade I watched was no different than yours I'm sure. Or anyone else's across America. It was held on the main street of a small town in Wisconsin. It could have been in Oregon or Maine.

But maybe it felt a little more special because this town was the first one in the state to have a Fourth of July parade. There was history here. Along with vendors on rollerblades selling blue cotton candy.

The reviewing stand was across from the town's oldest building, a house converted into a quaint as shit gift shop, covered in red white and blue bunting.  I had a very comfortable seat provided by the [do I need to say gay?] owner of a popular antiques store who was one of this year's judges. To ward off the sun I was wearing my White Sox Championship cap, always a big hit in Green Bay Packer territory.

The parade started about a half an hour late, led by the county sheriff and his smiling wife, driving in his all black Ford vehicle with its patriotic red and blue lights flashing.  Behind them came all manner of amateur floats. The local ice cream parlor had a cooler and several people dispensing real sundaes to the crowd as their entry. There was a tiki bar on a flatbed featuring a forty year old fat bartender serving refreshments to two sixteen year old girls in bikinis that kept riding up their butts.  Several convertibles rolled by, filled with at least two dozen ladies wearing outrageous crimson chapeaux, representing the Red Hat Society, a national group for women over fifty who have nothing left to do with their lives but wear red hats.

There were old men, probably close to my age, carrying a multitude of flags and marching for the American Legion or one of the local Lions Clubs. There were also two uniformed veterans, a young one from Iraq, and an old one from Vietnam, sitting on chairs on a nearly unadorned flatbed and waving like they wished they could be doing something else.

There was a high school band with a drum section that sounded like it was marching to a different beat than the brass. I swear that one girl who passed by me with her lips around a saxaphone was only pretending to play. This sadsack group was understandably bad, since they were a very last minute substitute for the good band that had been scheduled.  The scheduled band had to cancel at the last minute -- that morning we were told -- because their bandleader was arrested the day before for having kiddie porn on his computer.

Interspersed among an array of marchers that included dozens of kids of all sizes and ages from a local art school in charming, handmade costumes, were all kinds of people passing out candy by throwing it at our feet. I guess there was a parade rule against throwing candy directly at anyone. Somebody probably sued. So feet it was. Mostly they were throwing Tootsie Rolls. The operative word is ROLL.

The local Shakespeare Society, the song and dance people from the summer theater troup, some huge fire engines and monster trucks blowing horns so loud that my sphincter puckered -- all were well represented.

Probably one of the highlights of the parade was the number of antique and vintage cars featured, from an old VW bus and a WWII Jeep to several colorful Ford Model A's, a bunch of 1967 Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles, and even an old Mustang. All painted with multiple coats of high gloss paint, accessorized with spotless white walls, wire rimmed wheels and cute kids waving from the passenger seats. 

With a notable exception -- one very old and very rusty pickup. It looked like someone had retrieved it from a backyard dump, dragged it out of the pond where it had spent the last fifty years, dried it off, got it started, and sneaked it into the parade before anyone realized they were there.  The bleary-eyed driver looked like he'd just finished doing time for something he'd perpetrated on someone's daughter. The creepy. mustachioed, longhaired guy in the passenger seat was in a sleeveless leather vest and had his tattooed arm hanging out of the window. Did I mention he was creepy?

There was no cheering when the weird rusty wreck rolled by. Only stares and whispers of disbelief.  On my part, at least. Not that the two guys noticed. They kept waving like the Queen of England and shouting Happy Fourth of July!!!

We dubbed it the Meth Float.

I think they were just ahead of the Miss Wisconsin car. 

1 comment:

psychfun said...

Hey...watch that old stuff! Now did that Red Hat Society not let you in their little club??? Like you'd want to be! HA! Actually, I'm sure you would add some fun & get them into lots of trouble...they should let you in. ;-) Now why couldn't the band still play, I mean they shouldn't be punished for what their director did after all that hard work. I'll bet those creepy guys just tagged along at the end & were not a part of it. Careful...they could have been checking out the kids! You should write up these reviews for the town newspaper...HA! Boy would you be a great gossip columnist!