Blue Ridge Mountain Views
“Hurrah for the Fourth”
By DIANE WARMAN BLANKS
Me? March in the Fourth of July Parade in a nearby little town? “Of course you can do it,” said the wife of a fellow county political candidate heartily. “It’s only a four-block walk.” I’ve never been known for my hiking abilities. “All you have to do is walk four blocks giving out candy to the children.”
Wrong. Main Street is, indeed, four blocks or so. But the parade lined up in the woods far, far beyond Main Street. Then we all hiked up a steep hill, onto the highway and Then made it onto Main Street.
Being dedicated members of the men-of-the-people party, we were walking…and sparing no shoe leather. The opposition, on the other hand, were riding in convertibles, with professionally executed signs. Or, in some cases, on (nearly) elegant floats. The “Elect Diane” transfer on my homemade candidate’s tee shirt was still hot from the iron. I had a plastic grocery bag half-full of bubble gum and candy.
The hour of the parade arrived, and we all lined up–floats, assorted vehicles large and small and pedestrians–and started jerkily up the hill. It turns out my fellow party candidates are much speedier walkers than I am. They rapidly left me behind, disappearing into the far distance.
When we topped the rise, I was behind two guys cavorting in cow costumes. I heard the clattering shoes of the clogging group behind me and speeded up, wary of being clogged to death in the excitement.
I had lived in that little town many years ago and been in more than one parade back then. The last one was a Halloween one. The police car led off, followed by the town children marching rag-tag in their Halloween costumes (with me pulling my daughter, wearing her costume, in a red Radio Flyer wagon because she had broken her leg and had a cast from ankle to thigh.) The town fire truck brought up the end of the parade. There had been maybe 150 spectators. It was all very Andy Hardy.
This time, spectators lined the entire parade route five and six deep, with the first three rows made up entirely of adorable small children clutching huge empty bags for the candy. I started giving out candy, but ran out after half a block.
For the rest of the parade, I waved, smiled and scuttled past disappointed children holding out their bags. Some of their faces crumpled as I passed them, empty handed. Luckily, the opposition floats came along and showered them with sweets, brightening their little faces. Occasionally I glimpsed my fellow party candidates, far, far in the distance. I had wondered why they had showed up with enormous tubs of candy. Now I knew.
At last my walk of shame came to an end, and I started hiking up hill and dale through the woods toward my car. It started to rain. Eventually a passing pickup took pity on me, slowed and offered me a ride. I hopped gratefully onto the back.
In the NEXT parade, I’m supposed to ride in a truck and be part of the party’s kazoo band. I’m sure I’ll be MUCH better at that.
News at eleven,
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