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John R. Eggers: How to watch a parade?

We either are in the parade or we watch the parade

If you are a parade watcher I know how you can get more out of it. I have, at times, been critical of some parades. In recent years my attitude has changed. The change may have happened when I was squirted by one of those enormous squirt guns a few years ago. It woke me up. Now I watch every parade by giving thanks and I wear a smile. Here’s how you can do the same.

Let’s begin with the bands. What you see are 30 to 50 young people marching down the street in pretty good unison playing an up-beat tune like the theme from the movie Rocky. The people applaud and the band keeps marching.

Even though the crowd watching the parade only sees the marching high school band for just a few minutes, many stress filled hours were spent in making those few minutes pleasing to the watchers. This is why you need to give thanks and smile when you see a few kids marching out of step and give a bigger smile at those students who carry the tubas and have streams of perspiration rolling down their cheeks.

Parades are really for children, which means they are for all of us. We have at least one kid memory of parades from long ago. We take pleasure in giving kids the candy that happens to fall in our lap. We smile and say thanks for avoiding those extra calories and for putting a smile on a little one’s face.

I would not like to be a politician in a parade. They have a smile on their face but I’m not sure it’s genuine, which, I suppose, makes them a good politician. They have to be saying to themselves, “I would rather be sitting where they are sitting. Do I really want to do this? Do those people really want to read a brochure? Will this help me get votes? I want to go home.” For politicians marching in parades is when they get those second thoughts about running for office. I am surprised more don’t run for home. I smile and take their brochure and give thanks that there is someone other than me wanting to be a public servant.

I take off my hat to those people who create the floats and especially the 4-H floats. I imagine the young kids getting together at someone’s farm on a warm summer evening to decorate the float and decide who and what animals will ride on it. The chickens seem to guess what’s going on and they run for cover. They aren’t so dumb.

We need to give special thanks for all of those fire fighters when we see the fire trucks go by. Even though the horns cause us to have a mild heart attack, we put our hands over our ears and smile. We are once again made aware of what they do by the poignant reminders we have been reading about and listening to of the 19 fire fighters lost in Arizona.

Parades give us a chance to salute the flag, wave at a queen, enjoy old autos, say hello to the mayor, watch 18 wheelers, laugh at a clown, and dodge the horse droppings as we pack up our coolers and blankets and go home. I am thankful for the opportunity to see another parade and smile all the way home as I think about my wife getting squirted with water by the clown riding the mini bike.

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.