My small town hosts an epic Fourth of July parade that is several hours long. If you are from a small town, you will know the kind of parade I mean. The first 20 minutes or so includes the Flag Bearers, The Veterans and every sheriff, police, fire department, fire volunteer and military vehicles in the county. We all stand, and the guys remove their hats, and the children salute. I get teary eyed every year.
Every youth group marches with a float or a decorated pick up truck or rides their bikes in matching t-shirts. Every politician or political hopeful has their own marching group of friends, relatives, bikes and strollers and carry baskets of handouts. All the vacation bible schools have floats, too. Some hand out frozen icees and another church hands out bottles of water.
All the local communities have summer festivals complete with Queens and Princesses and the county fairs even have a few Kings. We wave and smile back to all the royalty because we used to royal parents ourselves!
It will be the first time out for many of the middle school and high school bands, who have lost their "veterans" to graduation and have been busy practicing with the new guys.
Several of the local businesses participate in the parade, too. Last year featured a giant sneaker with a live band from a local bar, as well as pizza places, a local beer distributor (no, they don't throw free beers, just coasters and coozies), really any and every business you can think of.
My personal favorite would be a tie between the Little Leaguers and the fifth grade DARE graduates. Both groups are between 8-12 years old and are on bicycles. The brave souls who gather them, line them up and travel the parade route with them deserve a special prize!
The end of the parade features local business again, this time with vehicles, semi trucks, work trucks and even a septic tank company's vehicle, complete with sound effects!
I used to invite everyone back to my house after the parade for lunch. Last year my son and his wife bought a house with a great backyard with a view of the evenings firework celebration, so we all went there. This year he has to work so we are going to my daughter and son-in-law's new house which features a pool. Of course I can't go swimming with shingles and I am just getting back on my feet anyway. It will probably be an early day for my husband and me.
Happy Fourth of July!