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I was never much on parades as a child.  As an adult I’m still not much on them.  But I do think they have their place.

I’m 11.  We’ve come to my grandparents for Thanksgiving.  This is my favorite holiday.  The air is full of the smells of roasting turkey, pies, and quick breads.  My cousins are here.  My aunts and uncles are here.  Some of the aunts’ have new boyfriends.  And I’m the OLDEST cousin.  Prestige!!!

You kids go in the living room and watch the parade.  Macy’s.  Who is going to have the biggest float?  Look at the color of the flowers used to decorate.  Yup! My grandparents have a color TV.  Whew-ooo. Hey, they have some new giant balloons of Charlie Brown and Snoopy.  The marching bands are fun.  I can watch this for about a half an hour, then give me something real to do.

I’m 15.  July 4th celebration in Plainfield.  This is a big celebration.  We only have 800 people in Plainfield.  But the people from Marshfield are here.  They have a similar population.  And there are even some from Cabot.  Don’t forget the hippies from Goddard College.  Really, this is a pretty good celebration.  There are some floats.  And there are some bands, particularly the hobo band, made up of old guys, up there in their 20s or even older.  The Bread and puppet theatre has some huge white bird puppets that tower 20 feet into the air.  Takes four people per bird.  That’s impressive.  There are the boy scouts marching.  And some of the Martin Meadow kids are riding their bikes with cards in the spokes to make back fire sounds.  Way cool even if I am 15.  Okay, enough of this.  Let’s go home.

I’m 19.  I’m in the parade, playing tenor sax in the hobo band.  You know these guys aren’t so old as I thought.  I had to find some baggy old clothes to wear to look like a hobo.  At 5’4″  and only 118 pounds, almost anything looks baggy on me.  Have to stick out the whole parade if you are in it.

I’m 57.  I’m watching the Jamestown Christmas parade with Cata and my niece Catri.  It’s about three weeks before Christmas. There is a sizeable crowd, but not too many floats.  There are some interesting militia units, a fife and drum corp., lots of cars as old as I am, and one high school band.  There are police on bikes trying to keep the crowd back.  Most of the crowd is family. 

All of this sounds good, but it isn’t….  While the people on the floats are waving to the crowd, wishing us Merry Christmas, almost no one is looking at them, let alone wishing them the same back.  Instead they are standing there with open sacks, even some of the adults.  They are watching up the hill, looking to see who will be coming next.  Do they have candy?  Will they throw it our way.  “Son, get out there or you won’t get any candy!  Everyone will beat you to it.”  This, even though the police just backed everyone back.

I don’t remember this candy throwing when my girls were little.  Did I miss something?  I’m disgusted by the out and out greed I’m seeing.  Yet it is greed that we encouraged, or someone did.  While I didn’t like it that much, I went to the parades to see what there was to see, not to see how much candy loot I could pull in.  Perhaps the candy was to lure the families to the parade.  Perhaps it was so that the people in the parade could witness the delight and surprise in the faces of the kids that received it.  Maybe it worked for a year or two.  But despite the best of intentions, it has produced the opposite effect.  The kids and families are hardly there for the parade at all.  They seem to be only there to satisfy the greed that has been sanctioned and encouraged.

Would city hall do better to say that no paradae participants can throw candy?  They would have to let it be known to the public.  Would the community still come out?  If a parade falls in the woods and no one comes……   I don’t know the answers.


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