This is the fun part.
The reward for missed dinners, laundry baskets around town full of smoke laden shirts, dirty rugs from boots caked with mud, sore backs, sore muscles and smoky, blood shot eyes.
Besides the obvious gift of coming home at all, its one of the few thank you gesture they receive. Even though they don’t do it for the recognition, it is appreciated when the community stands up and says thanks.
The first parade of the season is at the Apple Blossom Festival – and I was there again to get it all down.
Upgrading to a video camera this year, it was fun to sit and wait among the crowds. Record breaking attendance this year is the result of a boring and bleak winter season, everyone was just happy to get out of the house. Where is a better place than at a parade? Unseasonably cool for May, we were glad it wasn’t raining.
The Apple Blossom Festival is like every other festival in americana life. When I was a kid, it was known as the Fireman’s Fair – but the name is only that – just a name. The feelings it evokes are universal.
The carnival came to town as well, right on schedule. Sandwiched between the high school parking lot and a small plant further down the road, the area became the magical place of rides, the giant ferris wheel, and cotton candy. The aroma of funnel cakes (our personal favorite) filled the air, amidst the call of barkers and game keepers. The clickity clak of the betting wheel and pipe organ music in the background, was only the backdrop for the festivities at hand.
Picking the Apple Blossom Queen and her Court was done earlier in the week, as this festivals goes for seven days! They sit upright in their chauffeured convertible, waving and cheered by adoring parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends. Part of the parade of four fire companies, bag pipes and high school bands, they are pieces of the spectacle yet to come. So are the fife, drum and bugle corps, jazz companies and scouts. I smile as I watch them pass by, all heads held high, tandem in step by step.
They are there, young and old, beside me on the sidewalk, and I search the faces in the crowd to see a neighbor or someone from church. No one I recognize, for this is still a large community and I have yet to see an 1/8 of it all.
It doesn’t stop them from searching my face either, and its a nice surprise when someone introduces themselves. You’re from…..? they start and I realize I’m standing next to the postman, and a cashier from the local IGA from down the road.
Popcorn and candy vendors line the streets, and I found my new friends the fudge makers. They smiled in recognition and waved hello. Other tents set up to house t-shirts and flags clogged the road, as well as pottery and jewelry, standard sale items at any festival.
When it came time for the Town Supervisor to stand at the podium, all was quiet as he thanked the men and women in our armed forces, those who could not be with us today, and those who would never be with us again. The applause was deafening when the parade of military crossed in front of us.
Handsome and crisp in their uniforms, they are part of the battalion that fights here at home, the firefighters who face harms way whether by land or on the water.
Yes, this was the fun part, marching in a hometown parade.
I’m sure there were good luck lady bugs somewhere that day.
But I think most of them were at a parade.