Even as a kid, I never liked kid stuff. I blame this mostly on the fact that I'm the baby in the family and my closest sister is four years older than me. When other kids my age were watching Disney movies, my teenage sisters were watching Thrashin' and The Lost Boys.
I've never liked parades. I think the first time that I went to a parade on purpose was the summer I got married--because Traci loves parades and she made me go. Now I go because my kids love parades and Traci still makes me go.
The last couple of years Paige has asked me how one gets in the parade. Since my work is in Murray I thought, hey, maybe my work should be in the Murray parade. Then I could take Paige along with me and I'd end up looking like the best dad ever.
So I proceeded to get everything arranged--including transporting a bunch of GREENbikes across town in a little van on a very sweaty afternoon. There was just one little problem. No one else wanted to be in the parade. (Shockingly), none of my coworkers wanted to come to work at 7:30 in the morning on a holiday. So there was begging and pleading and promising interns double hours and the like.
Despite the difficulty, I was sure, it would be worth it when Paige got to be in the parade.
And then there was another problem. Paige said she didn't want to be in the parade.
Between the time that I signed up and the day of the event, Paige came to a very important realization. If she was in the parade, she wouldn't be able to catch candy at the parade. In other words, her entire reason for being at the parade would be ruined. Nope. She was not going to go with me. I was on my own.
I also had a realization. The only thing worse than being at the parade is being in the parade. Our crew consisted of my buddy John Snell driving the van (make note of that name, he's going to become an important part of future posts), Toothy the inflatable tooth, his handler, and three of us on bikes.
We'd filled our bike basket with tiny basketballs that we could throw out to the crowd. The only problem with that plan was that bratty kids--and their even brattier parents or grandparents--would run all the way out into the middle of the street and say, with outstretched hands, "Can I have a basketball?"
Um, no. Get out of the street. Even better was when they would reach their hands directly into the basket and try to get the balls themselves. Free stuff always brings out the best of people.
Folks loved Toothy. (And how could they not?) Unfortunately, it's pretty tough for a giant walking tooth to keep up with the procession--especially when kids wanted high fives or parents wanted pictures. At one point, we were quite a ways back from the group ahead of us. An old man parade volunteer on the side of parade shouted at me, "Hurry up. YOU'RE RUINING THE ENTIRE PARADE." Wow. I guess we better hurry up. Except Toothy can't really walk any faster. So we had to shove in the back of the van. We put the pedal to the metal and caught up, thus saving the parade from ruin. Phew.
My favorite part of the parade was when it was over. My second favorite part was during the last leg of the route when a (possibly drunk) 30-something dude walked right up to me and begged for a basketball. I obliged. He then walked about four feet away from me before drilling me right in the side of the head with the basketball. Nice.
Despite a rough morning, the 4th ended strong. I had a great time a barbecue at my sister's house, watching my kids enjoy being kids.
And for the first time in the history of our little family, we watched the fireworks without anyone crying. God bless America.