I don't remember the year, but trust me when I tell you that it was *mumblemumble* years ago, that I saw my first small town parade.
I'd been to a big city parade. At the age of 5, my parents took me into New York City early one Thanksgiving morning and I got to see the Macy's Christmas parade live. My biggest memory of the parade? Nope, it wasn't seeing Tom Turkey, the balloons, the bands or Santa Claus himself. My memory is of the fact that since I was shorter than those around, I couldn't see, so my dad lifted me up to sit on a mailbox next to them. This was followed by the arrival of a policeman on a giant brown horse (I was short AND I was a city girl, you do the size math!) telling my parents that I was not allowed to sit on federal property.
So much for the parade memories from that year. I'm sure I was fascinated as only a wide eyed child could be at the time, I simply can't access those memories.
I can remember my first small town parade. Okay, it may not be the very first one I saw, but it's the first parade I truly have memories of being there, seeing the bands and the floats and the cars and the people. I remember the sounds, the smells, the way the sun shone down on everything - people smiling, laughing, waving with pride the little American Flags. It was over the Fourth of July holiday and it was in Osceola, Iowa, home of my mom's parents - my Nanny & Papa.
Osceola is one of those wonderful small towns built around an open city square and it was around that square that the parade wove it's way. My Papa was a member of the Osceola Volunteer Fire Department and I clearly remember him in his crisp white shirt and his dark blue pants with the dark blue cap firmly on his head as he rode in the big fire engine. I remember a float that was shaped like the world as it rested in the back of an old red pick up truck. I remember the bands and the horses. The sights and smells, the sounds as they wove through the day. My Nanny worked in a booth that sold pies and other baked goods. I don't clearly remember if it was for her church group or because she was a fireman's wife but I do remember being sneaked a cookie if I would go on and not just hang around. There were carnival rides set up in the square and that night the square became a magical world of bright lights and carny music and cotton candy.
However, it was the parade that started the day.
I think those memories are part of the reason I love living in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. We are a part of the Tulsa area and therefore we are part of a metropolitan community, but there are times when Broken Arrow is simply a good, old fashioned small town. The second weekend of May is one of those times. Each year, on the second weekend of May, the town celebrates Rooster Days, a spring time festival. There is a Miss Chick pageant, a carnival, a craft show, music and lights and on Saturday morning, there is a parade.
A good old fashioned hometown parade.
Leading the parade is the high school marching band, fittingly named, The Pride of Broken Arrow. These kids, grades 9 through 12, are amazing musicians and Grand National Champion winning marchers. There's one that I'm particularly proud of myself ... a sixteen year old sax playing junior.
Yeah. It was a nice way to start the parade. Although, this year the parade was started even sweeter as one of the main sponsors for the Broken Arrow parade is our own local Blue Bell Ice Cream Creamery and while their big brown truck slowly made it's way down the street, it's various employees came down each side with large ice cream buckets handing out mini ice cream sandwiches. One, two, three ... some had four and five ... didn't matter, they were free and they were yummy and there was no shortage of smiles after that.
Mixed between the various middle school bands were various floats from area businesses and churches, groups of cheerleaders and dancers. There were old cars and new ones, including the new unmarked police car contrasting with one of the original Oklahoma Highway Patrol cars. There were Shriners ... the spinning car, the clowns chasing each other, the mini speed cars racing up and down and around, the dune buggies. There were politicians (what's a small town parade without them?) and there were representatives of the local television station.
The parade began to wind down, having saved the best middle school band for last. Okay, probably not completely true since they actually marched the middle school bands in alphabetical order, but in MY opinion it was the best middle school band. You see, making her debut marching performance was yet another of my girlies, also playing sax. After years of watching her and her sisters in this parade or the winter Christmas parade, either as band members or Girl Scout troop members, the thrill of pride never fades in seeing the flushed face of the young person I adore, who has been a part of something fun and hometown wholesome. They may fuss about walking the distance, but in the end - they're always smiling.
Of course, after the parade came the craft show and a day spent at the carnival. Later that night would come the tired, sweaty, children recounting the twisting, twirling, plummeting fun of rides as they count their loot of plush animals - the magic of colorful lights still shining in their eyes.
However, before that, still seated on the concrete sidewalk, feeling the breeze, listening to the music of the bands and the people, watching the amazing sight of a small town community, I remembered back to those days *mumblemumble* years ago and the fond memories of sharing a fun time with family and I hoped. I hoped to myself that my girlies were stockpiling those memories to recount in future years.