Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day

I'm glad the neighborhood parades are still going on. Don't you wish we could somehow share these with other countries - This is USA - this is what we're really like. This is why we celebrate Independence Day!

We have a 4th of July parade that goes right by our place.

One feature I never could understand was the countless groups of community organizations. Picture this from the curb: a car goes by slowly, a sign taped to the side of the car says "Bay View Parents of Human Kids" followed by a half-block long herd of adults walking in the road. That's all they had in common, dressed in street clothes, with no wardrobe attempt to unify the group, they didn't even march to music, or march in rows, they just walk in the road. Film it, and replace the sound track with a solemn narrator: "Bay View Parents of Human Kids were marched off to the camps without incident this morning".

Then there were the performing groups. "Children Whose Parents Have Paid for Baton Lessons". First the obligatory car, this time with an open trunk with a boom box. Then follows a small herd of children in expensive looking uniforms, carrying batons. They are walking along, talking amongst themselves, you'd expect one to pull out a cell-phone and start talking. No reaction, either to the music, or any acknowledgement that there are people lining both sides of the street watching them - just the sullen walk in the street. Then, after the uniformed kids, somewhat mixed in with the 'marching unit' are the Parents Who have Paid For Their Children's Baton Lessons. See above.

This sort of "marching unit" is what I always thought of when I saw this parade. But this year was different. I had just gone down to Steve's on the corner and was returning home with my coffee. A dancing 6 ft bratwurst almost made me spill my coffee. Judge Konkel was riding on the back of the red convertible, alone this year. I paused in front of our place to look at the rest of the parade, remembering when I used to ride with Judge Konkel playing patriotic music on my accordion.

A man in revolutionary war garb walked by, playing patriotic tunes on a concertina. A man on a unicycle was juggling three balls, red, white, and blue. He never dropped one, and, believe me, Kinnickinnic Avenue is no place to be riding a unicycle, even during a parade. And then a children's baton group came by, they were marching in rows, and performing a routine in unison, in time with the music. Highly unusual.

And then came St. Lucas. First the Lutheran band, a very enthusiastic marching unit dressed up like old Germans in white shirts und braun shorts. There was even a banjo in the band. And then, a Lutheran dog, following the band. He was a very large dog, and the parade was marching too slowly for him, so he would periodically sit down, and wait awhile, then pick up the march again. And, then, just about everybody in St. Lucas Lutheran Church came by. Full width of the street, almost a block long. The entire congregation must have turned out for this. All in electric blue St. Lucas shirts. And, although they marched in rows, each was doing a different thing. Some were handing out pamphlets for youth groups, some for other outreach organizations. Some were throwing candy to the audience, and there was a little girl handing out american flags to people. The whole congregation together. It was beautiful, and everyone was made a little happier from their brief contact with St. Lucas. Why can't organized religion always work like this?

Next, the star of the entire parade. A lady, i'd say mid-20s, in a sparkly white baton twirler suit, marched alone, without music. She had a baton which she threw 2 stories in the air, and always caught it. Sometimes she'd wave to people while the baton was in the air, and sometimes she'd do a cartwheel right on the street. But she would always just blithely grab the baton without even looking up, as if it had always been there waiting for her to grab it, and she would bow and start her next routine, to wild applause. And smiling all the while. That's what I wanna be when I grow up.

Happy Independence Day!


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1 comment:

Lydia said...

I LOVE GAR*MART!!! There's nothing like a man on a unicycle to get the old Monday fired up!! I needed a one-stop thought shop - thank God you opened one.

Welcome & a toast to the new venture! *clink*