A strange holiday parade

floating tiny car with flames
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

It doesn’t get any more magic than our town’s holiday parade. Why they have a winter holiday parade, I’m not sure – to show off the great weather? It doesn’t make sense, but neither does the New York City Thanksgiving parade. The crowds swirled around, determined to have fun, to have an event… it always seems like magic for anything to happen, the banishment of routine and apathy.

How I loved the crying baton-twirlers, the bewildered, terrified dancers and marchers. The earnest marching bands! Jo’s 10-year-old daughter Eliz. and I got into an argument about quality in general as she was watching the parade with undisguised horror.

“So, you’d be totally humliliated if you had to march and shake those pompoms and sing like that, right?”

“Yup. You got it. How can they? They aren’t any good. Look, they don’t even know what to do.”

“Well, you can enjoy the badness.”

“That only goes so far! “

I tried to explain my enjoyment of the parade was not completely irony-filled sneering. “It’s about standing up as a little person, a regular person, and saying what you do is important. We could all just be in the parade even without costumes and without doing anything special, just for civic pride and participation. That’s what makes it beautiful.”

“Yeah riiiiight. Actually it’s all about the advertisements.”

Then some people in regular clothes with reindeer antler headbands marched by holding an indefinable banner, not doing any kind of performance in particular. Eliz. shot me a look of deadly cynicism.

At times there were really good dancers! There was music – choreography – complexity – talent and energy.

And then, strange sights you never see anywhere else but small town parades, like this tiny car with painted flames. Who needs to go to Burning Man… we have enough strangeness right here. What would possess a grown person to own, to build, to cram his butt into, then to drive out in, this tiny car? Whatever that spirit is, I love it.

Moomin’s class did an animal dance; Sophie’s did a part of “Coming to America” from West Side Story that made me cringe a little bit. From high school students I could maybe see it, but from kindergarteners waggling their hips saucily, I found it perturbing:

Lots of new housing with more space
Lots of doors slamming in our face
I’ll get a terrace appartment
Better get rid of your accent
Life can be bright in America
If you can fight in America
Life is alright in America
If you’re a white in America

After we collected Moomin we ran off to see the fireworks get shot off from the library parking lot. It did not disappoint. The show lasted at least 20 minutes and was amazing – not only that, we were right underneath the fireworks and could smell the smoke drifting down. It was beautiful.

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