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.