Few days of my year are more predictable than July 4. That's because, starting a year in advance, I know right where I will be that morning: at the Lions' July 4 Parade.
I always sit in the same place on Norwood. This is not a behavior that is peculiar to me. In fact, I can pretty much tell you who is going to be sitting on the adjacent lawns and across the street. They all sit in the same place each year, too. Once in a while, a new person shows up and you can hear people around you saying: "Okay, now who is THAT across the street?"
I have learned to take my own food and beverages because the parade will last at least an hour longer than I ever imagine. This year, I am considering a catheter as well.
There will be half a dozen floats created by organizations that could not get anyone to work on them until the night before the parade. And they will look like it. Gary Bauer, on the other hand, obviously works from a plan and knows what he is doing. He will win best float.
Jesus may or may not make an appearance. The one from the Living Bible place in Mansfield, that is. I'm not sure, but I think he skips a year now and then. It could be that our parade sometimes interferes with Jesus' vacation.
Antique cars will pass and men on the tree lawns will shout out the year along with some car trivia as each one passes. For example: "That's a '56. The '55s had smaller taillights."
Or: "I had one just like that but the side vent window wouldn't close."
Or: "I paid $400 for one just like that. I should have put it in a barn and kept it. Think what it would be worth today." Like that.
Many of the parade units will be cars with cute little festival queens in them and their names lettered onto a cardboard sign. Once or twice each parade, I will read one of those names and shout it enthusiastically when the car passes. Like this: "Amy! AMY!!" This will momentarily cause the queen to stop her professional, curved wrist waving and look hopefully in my direction, thinking I must be someone who knows her. She is always puzzled or disappointed when she sees it is I a gray bearded stranger who has called to her. This is childish behavior on my part, I know. But I continue to do it each year. So it must amuse me.
I will eventually learn that seven people suffered permanent hearing loss from sirens or air horns. Of course, it is a small price to pay in return for the mini Tootsie Rolls these individuals gathered from the passing fire trucks and cement mixers.
By the time the parade reaches my vantage point way out on Norwood most of the very young girls in the parade will wish they had never seen a baton. The glamour of twirling will have lost its appeal somewhere before they crossed Elm Street.
On the other hand, the Shriners will maintain their enthusiasm from parade start to finish. But then, who wouldn't want to spend a couple of hours whizzing along on a minibike, causing a smile on the faces of almost everyone you pass? I still don't get it. But I always smile.
There will not be enough bands in the parade, and the ones that are in it will have just finished playing when they get to me. All I will hear is drum cadence, and all I will see is sweat.
There will be a long line of commercial trucks at the end of the parade. But by this time, I will be numb. As the last dump truck passes with a line of cars behind it, our marvelous annual July 4 parade will have turned into simple traffic.
My family and I will stand up, shake our heads and comment that it is always the same, never very remarkable.
But we wouldn't miss it for the world.
That's what my July 4 will be like. See you there.