Memorial Day is upon us. A day dedicated to the brave that have defended our country and its principles. It also happens to be a day where we can not work and have parades. Now I have never been a big parade person. I can probably count the number of times I have been to a parade on my hands. However, in my limited experience I can tell that parades are probably quite different on so many levels. I am sure there differences across the US and even depending on whether you are at a state, city, or local level. Today I went to a local Memorial Day parade and was rather surprised at some of the local customs.
This particular parade was slated to begin at ten o’clock, so we arrived early, as recommended by the township. Not only did everyone else arrive early, but apparently also called “dibs” on places to sit along the sidewalk. I am not talking about random travel chairs on the sidewalk. There were stretches of folding chairs lined up on the sidewalk. I can only imagine that these chairs belong to the homeowners along the parade route. This would probably never work in a larger city where you are less likely to run into someone you know. People would either sit in your chair or move it.
We did manage to find a nice spot to sit, and in the shade, nonetheless. The parade began, and it was like any other parade you could imagine. You had bands and cars filled with veterans rolling down the street. You even had local teams and clubs showcasing their talents. But then something I have never seen happened. Some people in the parade starting throwing candy out into the street toward the onlookers. They were throwing almost all matter of small and inexpensive candy—Tootsie rolls, Laffy Taffy, Double Bubble, you name it. They were also throwing Jolly Ranchers, Tootsie pops, and Dum Dums. And these were being hurled towards the sidewalks from moving vehicles. And they obviously hit the street first, since you cannot have your parade goers being hit in the face by candy. You can imagine that the hard candy did not fare well with this method of delivery.
While the practice of free candy was new to me, it clearly was not new to the family sitting next to me, who seemed to be at the parade solely to gather loose candy. The mother would actually hoard the candy and stuff it into her pockets. It was not an unfortunate reflection on the state of the economy, but on human behavior these days in general. Of course, more free stuff also was thrown into the street, and it was also gobbled up by the crowd, particularly the family sitting next to me.
The one other thing about the parade that I found interesting was the signage and posters. Most were simple and wished everyone a happy Memorial Day or thanked our troops. One catchy sign read, “Home of the Free Because of the Brave”. The one that caught my eye was a sign carried by a middle school. It was a middle school that had only fifth and sixth grades. But the sign read, “____ Middle School, We Remember, 5th and 6th Grades”. It would seem to me that sixth graders are a little young even to really remember much of the Iraq War, let alone any other battle or even military action. Though I am certain one the teachers made that sign.
And that was my parade experience. Next year I will have to just remember to get there even earlier and bring some Starburst.