In the North, my predominant memory of parades are those that occurred on Memorial Day. Memorial Day is not a big holiday in the South. Lingering resentment over The War has relegated Memorial Day to the also-rans of holidays. But up North it is BIG. My first memory of Memorial Day parades is in Jacksonville, Illinois, where Mr. Hoffman, who owned the flower shop, would overturn large flower containers to make stools for us kids to sit on in the window of his shop. We’d watch the parade go by in the town that my people had come from for generations. Later, I was part of the parade. Washington Crossing the Delaware as depicted with a 1956 Chevrolet enrobed in crepe paper representing the boat. I was a soldier.
In my teenage years, it was the Gasparilla Parade in Tampa. Every year, the most prominent men in Tampa get on a pirate ship in Tampa Bay, get royally liquored up and then “conquer” the city as the legendary pirate Jose Gaspar did. After, elaborate floats make their way through the streets as the pirates hurl plastic doubloons to the crowd. As a freshmen in college, I was part of the larger Krewe parade, where not only the Gasparilla folks but the Krewe of Venus folks get gussied up. I was dressed as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. My dress weighed 342 pounds. I did the Miss America wave.
I will pretty much watch a parade anywhere there is one whether I’m involved in it or not. I love the pageantry of it. I love people dressed up in silly costumes waving to the crowds. I love the noises of the bands, the police sirens, the fire trucks. I even love the inevitable battalion of bad prepubescent tap dancers with batons. It is Americana.
No recipe today, except a recipe for returning to your childhood. I hope you watched a July Fourth parade somewhere. Oh, c’mon. Do the wave. Just once. Don’t you feel better?