Independence Day in Illinois
So here I am in Illinois and it's the 4th of July. The friends I stay with here are away for awhile and I don't know another soul in this city, but I found out about the 4th of July parade held here on Lincoln Avenue and I've just returned from it. It lasted some 1.5 hours, pretty impressive.
America has changed. The veterans get half-hearted, polite applause and the folks at the parade are all sitting down, even most of the kids. Hello. When I was a kid we all stood up and cheered and waved - and most of the adults stood up too. I guess folks nowadays can't stand up for that long. Too many trips to McDonald's.
Right at the front of the parade were the services that keep us safe from fires and "foreign invaders" and bad guys with guns...firemen, military and police. They got some applause and I'll admit I got a lump in my throat. I think it was not so much about the guys parading before me as it was thinking back over all the 4th of Julys I spent with family and friends and how I'm just here in a strange city on my own. But never mind!
The parade was interesting in that it had a gay rights (to equal marriage) group, a scary bunch of folks called "Guns Save Lives.com" (whoaaaaaaa...frighening bunch, those). Yeah, I'm here in the heart of Republican America and a place where the NRA sits at the right hand of God. Scary. This is a college town, though, so I'm proud to say the Democratic Party and the Green Party were also well-represented in the parade. There were an overabundance of what we used to call squirt guns, though they were more the size of tanks. The kids (and quite a few adults) had a ball with those. Some of the fire trucks had loaded up with water and the kids had fun dueling with the guys operating the fire hoses.
As always kids ran for the candy that was tossed by various floats and vintage vehicles. There was a really cool old city bus in the parade and even the Bookmobile. Bunches of Shriners on wacky vehicles made us all grin and there was a convoy of 4 wheelers, a bicycle built for two and all kinds of interesting conveyences. But in all that 1.5 hours there were only two horses! I simply couldn't believe it here in the heart of the Illinois corn belt. Maybe all the farmers are harvesting today. I sure wish the Amish had brought along some of their fine horseflesh to show us what horses should look like. But never mind, I had to be content with several beautifully restored vintage tractors, mostly Farmalls, that paraded before us. There were the usual complements of teen beauties, flag twirlers (in shorts and t-shirts!!! remember how the bands used to really dress up for parades? Hey, I'm not THAT old), overweight kids puffing on tubas and skinny boys banging on drums bigger than themselves. There were the Daughers of the American Revolution and the Army, Marines, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Brownies, the Church of Christ ("our faith is over 2000 years old") and Women for Hairy Legs and Pits but the one that got me was the nut cases in the Guns Save Lives.com cavalcade. Corpulent brutes, yuck. They stuck them toward the end of the parade, probably so some of the sensible citizens of Urbana didn't boooooooooo them off the street. I tried but didn't get any support. Maybe I'm in the wrong town.
Guns Save Lives. Huh. How's that?