There is something downright inspiring about a parade. When townspeople gather in a common place to celebrate together it is inspiring. As we speak, the Fourth of July parade that will proudly proceed through our main roads in town is being planned and young and old alike are envisioning a spectacle better than last year's.
When I was a member of the Sudbury Historical Commission, I would join in the fervor with other Commission members to ready the Hosmer House for the townspeople to view her. She, the Hosmer House, was open to the public only once or twice a year, so we would vacuum and polish and primp and ready her for (hopefully) the throngs of visitors.
I remember how lawn chairs would reserve spaces in the early morning the day of the parade. One year I set out a pair of lawn chairs--one for our then Town Historian Curt Garfield and the other for "The Town Historian's Wife." Across the way on the Common the pie sale would be set up and if you wanted the best blueberry pie ever you needed to show up early — perhaps after placing your lawn chair-reserved seating. The Yankee Doodle yard sale was a destination and I found many treasures in Heritage Park on July 4. I remember sitting in the shade of the Heritage Park trees and watching as the Parade would finally make it's way up the hill of Town Center and finish near the Grange, the floats and paraders finally collecting in the parking lot behind Town Hall. Those were the good 'ol days.
Then came the era when I would coerce my husband and sons to join me in being part or all of a float in the parade. This is a completely different experience and perspective. We entered a couple of private "neighborhood" floats. I remember paying upward of $500 to install a hitch on my white woody PT Cruiser so that I could purchase a landscape trailer that was the proper scale to house a parade float.
One year I created a float to support the newly formed Agricultural Commission. The theme was local heroes and I interpreted the theme to say that farmers were the heroes. I had a huge sheet metal chicken and typical farm field windmill on top of the float along with all other kinds of "typical" farm cliche icons. Upon reaching the Grange I jumped out of the PT Cruiser and handed Selectman Drobinski a Roger Swain (of The Victory Garden) bobblehead. He acted perplexed ... Selectman Drobinski — not the bobble head. The bobblehead seemed to nod in approval of the whole episode. Those were the good 'ol days.
Having suffered near heat exhaustion while being in a float on more than one occasion the support of my husband and sons began to wane. Suddenly it seems I was part of a new perspective and found myself setting up our red plastic adirondacks under the shade of a large maple tree at the entry to Wadsworth cemetery on Concord road. I would decorate the tree with red, white, and blue and bring a cooler with grapes and juice and snacks for the boys. While waiting for the parade to arrive I would quench the boys' float thirst by busying them with the task of counting how many red, how many white, and how many blue cars would go by. Americans prefer red cars.
Then came the year we didn't go to the parade. It was within the last three years. I sensed the loss but preferred the comfort of my little piece of then-paradise in North Sudbury. Surrounded by privacy and quiet we would relax on the new orange plastic adirondack chairs and barbecue away.
Yesterday my husband and I went to Bristol, R.I., to look at possible retirement properties there. Bristol is a quaint New England village with historic charm galore. Sidewalks there are on both sides of the street and double wide — wide enough for pushing the grandchildren in our vintage woody baby carriage while still allowing bikers to pass. Bristol has a very proud title when it comes to parades. Known as the "Nation's Most Patriotic Town," Bristol has held a parade every year since 1785. This may explain the great sidewalks. Bristol encourages foot traffic. I think we will retire in Bristol.
This year, I plan on participating in the =arade in an entirely different way. As the owner of a business that is on the parade route, I will be decorating my storefront with all kinds of patriotic visuals that somehow will relate to my business. In Bristol I saw a tailor who had a cute window display — an antique sewing machine was stitching up a flag. How cute!
And I am asking all business owners on the parade route to enter an judged contest for best display. I will judge the displays and award a ribbon to the winner along with a bouquet of flowers from My PassionFlower. To enter the contest each business needs to pay $10 judging consideration fee — 100 percent of this fee will be donated to the Town of Sudbury and a dedicated sidewalk fund. Any one interested?