Images of Independence Day

FG and I went to the Ann Arbor 4th of July Parade down on Main Street this morning before going out for brunch at Cafe Zola, where you can get a wicked salmon, dill and scallion omelet. Keeping in mind that Ann Arbor is a typical large University town with lots of "townies" who come here to U of M and never leave, here’s what we saw and what I could post photographs of for your viewing pleasure:

-Many, many- hundreds- of children decked out in red, white and blue riding all manner of trikes, bikes, big wheels and scooters, all decorated with streamers and balloons and tinsel.
-Our brand spankin’ new Bookmobile. It’s deep blue with a giant silver shooting star on the sides and big silver letters that proclaim READ!
-Washtenaw County Mother’s of Multiples. Twins, mostly, in twin strollers and joggers and some triplets.
-The Rolling Sculpture Car Show, including fine specimens of vintage cars: my favorite was a blinding white Olds Vista Cruiser station wagon from the early 60’s but there was also a 61 DeSoto, classic GTOs, Mustangs and several Model A and T Fords.
-Shakey Jake, "Hizzoner," in a brilliant yellow Chrysler New Yorker convertible. For the other 364 days a year Shakey is Ann Arbor’s best known homeless annoyance. He looks like a portly ancient Stevie Wonder in several layers of suits and ties and stands in front of the Fleetwood Diner panhandling and playing his guitar (badly) and blowing a harmonica. He was well established when I arrived in 1970 so that gives you a hint. He got a huge round of applause.
-Next came the Ann Arbor Republicans. They were mostly overweight middle aged folks walking stiffly. Every other group in the parade was throwing out penny candy to the youngsters lining the streets; these people just carried red, white and blue signs that said, "I’m a Republican." No one cheered for them.
-Then came an open flat bed with a whole passel of cute little 7 year old boys armed with giant squirt guns. This was the Cub Scout Cool Down Team. Very big hit.
-The Comic Opera Guild in full regalia, some clowns and one guy on a unicycle.
-The Rudolf Steiner School car that had a bunch of very nerdy looking children, not smiling and sort of angrily pelting small children with tootsie rolls. What’s up with that?
-Then came the Veteran’s For Peace. This group of about 2 dozen men got enormous applause, cheering, clapping, yelling. Far and away, the most appreciated parade participants.
-The Jaycee’s Calliope. Delightful.
-Two giant trash hauling trucks from 1-800-Got Junk? complete with old mattresses in the back.
-One fully outfitted cowboy on a very fancy steed with lots of patriotic and leather gear and trailing behind him the manure boy with bucket and shovel. He got a lot of cheers.
-The Stonebridge Golf Club. This is our McMansion subdivision and they had half a dozen decorated golf carts filled with duffers and children.
-The Greenbelt People. Big favorite.
-The Ann Arbor Peace Coalition. This was the largest contingent in the parade and in many ways the most comical. Easily a hundred middle aged hippies with waist long gray hair in tie-dye shirts, carrying PEACE signs.
-Al Hill and the Love Butlers Big Band.
-The Ann Arbor Shopping Cart Drill Team. Hysterically funny routine in the middle of main street.
-The Drain Commissioner, the Prosecuting Attorney, Miss Washtenaw County (who knew we had one?), the President of Kiwanis. Everyone waited for them to get by so we could see what was next.
– A 1956 American LaFrance fire engine.
-The Coalition For Biking and Walking. "We don’t tie up traffic. We ARE the traffic!"
-The Meals on Wheels vans with signs of all the local supporting agencies.
-A whole bunch of darling Brownies and Girl Scouts carrying a sign that read "The End."

And then I began to cry. This is my home town. The older I get and the longer I live here the more I question the conspicuous consuming, the "not in my backyard" hypocrisy and the narrow minded Liberalism of this place. And yet. This is my home town. This is where I’ve gone to school and raised my children and worked my career for thirty-five years. These are my friends and neighbors who believe in peace and greenspace and scouting and taking meals to shut-ins. These youngsters on their red, white and blue bedecked bicycles are our future.

I could offer you parade pictures. I know you would love the shopping cart precision drill team or the tie-dyed hippies. But instead I’m offering you a picture of Bill. This is Bill, sitting in his office in Iraq. He is a recalled retired Lt. Colonel responsible for the logistics of a brigade of thousands of men. He has aged considerably since we last saw him at Arlington  when we buried his father in March. This is my husband’s brother, now my brother. On Independence Day, 2005. Image003

14 responses to “Images of Independence Day

  1. I was having so much fun with your descriptions, then you went and made me sad. Well, I know YOU’RE sad, too, Vicki. Peace out, dawg.

  2. Please promise me that you won’t tell any of my Spartan relatives that I grew teary-eyed over an Ann Arbor post?!

  3. “YAY!” for the vets and those still serving and “thank you” for the splendid description your hometown parade!

    I don’t know Bill but I think he’ll get to know me a bit from the disks I’m sending (several – my OCD inclination won’t allow me to stop at one).

    Enjoy your 4th and keep those M-80’s out of the neighbor’s mailbox.

  4. That was a really nice post.

  5. Vicki, You took me with you to the parade, and then you took me into your heart and I felt your mixed emotions with you.

    Yay for the children of Ann Arbor and prayers for Bill.

  6. That wicked salmon, dill and scallion omelet sounded great! I have very fond childhood memories of patriotic parades.

  7. Happy 4th Vicki! I am so jealous that you went to Zola’s for breakfast. I love their nutella crepe. Mmmmm. we should def. go there sometime!
    I’m glad to know you consider this place home (as I now do). Did you know there’s a Townie Bash the first day of Art Fair?

  8. Oh, man. Slam DUNK, Vicki! OW!

  9. This makes me remember the Fourth of July parade in Deerfield IL were I grew up. I can see all the old men adorned in little leopard hats with tassles riding around in their scooters now. Thanks for the memory Vic!

  10. Vicki, I cried at our neighborhood’s kid parade yesterday. I know…

  11. *waving at Bill *
    Sounds like the best of America all wrapped up in that parade Vick..( still snickering over the overweight Republicans with NO candy 😉

  12. *waving at Bill *
    Sounds like the best of America all wrapped up in that parade Vick..( still snickering over the overweight Republicans with NO candy 😉

  13. Beautifully said, m’dear. I may be one of those peace-loving liberals, but I’m also torn in two with a couple of cousins over there myself and have no problem supporting the troops who are doing their jobs. Big hugs to you and your family and to Bill!

    Loved hearing about your parade!

  14. Ann Arbor is the bright spot in the state of Michigan, people. The only one.

    Or at least it was when I hightailed it out of the state some 15+ years ago…

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