Monday, July 16, 2018

Bang the Drum Slowly

When “I Love a Parade" was composed in 1931 I imagine that its title well expressed the sentiment of many folks who didn’t have cool technology to play with in the air conditioned comfort of their living rooms.  Turning out to watch and to wave at other people walking or riding in formation continues to be a thing in some municipalities, especially small ones that will use a parade to kick off some local event be it the opening of Little League season, a shindig of some sort, or the beloved tradition of many a volunteer fire station, the block party.  And, of course, there are the holiday parades in the big cities with commercial sponsors, and the patriotic varieties that continue to be a tradition in many places.

As with too many things in which the pleasure faded as I grew up parades became more of a nuisance to me as time went by.  By high school during which which I had to lug and play the Sousaphone in countless parades including a L--O--N--G one in Philadelphia in '76 on a day that was about 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade (I exaggerate slightly for effect.) I’d become jaded to whatever charm might have been in any parade when I was a little kid.  For many of my adult years parades seemed to accomplish little more than blocking off main arteries within whatever towns or podunks I'd happen to be traveling through and delaying my progress in getting to wherever I might have been heading.  They came, in my mind, to make much ado about nothing* and I lost whatever ability I might have once had to squeeze some degree of enjoyment from watching local dignitaries of much self-touted importance waving from atop the deck of convertible models of sports or luxury cars and big fire fighting equipment rolling by.

With that preface, imagine me saying, “Yes!" when other members of our local loosely knit scooter group asked if I’d like to ride my scooter in a parade along the main street in their hometown of Exeter, PA, a small borough across the Susquehanna River and a few miles north.  Because our group is small and doesn’t often host events like scooter rallies or big group rides (And I’m not criticizing, because I’m not the sort to roll up my sleeves and pronounce, "Let’s do this!") I do like to participate when we manage to find worthy opportunities to ride together, even if it’s for a parade that would certainly close off Wyoming Avenue in Exeter, a main route through the west side, for an hour or so.  The occasion of the parade was to be the start of the Exeter block party which they're hoping will become an annual tradition, I believe.

Old men with band instruments perform on a float.  If I'd kept up the tuba I might have been one of them.

We met up at the home of the family that asked if I’d join them and after a while rode in formation to the staging area for the parade where we sweated in buckets while waiting for the whistle that I imagined would start the line moving.  Thank God for the fire trucks parked nearby in the shadows of which we found some relief from the unrelenting sun that threatened to bake us.  It was a nice opportunity, though, to catch up on things that had been going on since we last got together.  Though I can’t say I felt any "excitement" at the thought of being in the parade as I did when I was a Cub Scout and we marched in one, there was a certain type of it in the air and I can safely say that I participated in it at least vicariously through the others around me who seemed to be taking delight in the chance to pass in formation before our audience already assembling on the sidewalks along the route.

I enjoyed riding in a group again with some scooter friends and even though it’s not easy to talk to other riders when we’re moving there is a unique connection and camaraderie that’s felt as we scoot along.  Admittedly I paid more attention to the high school cheerleaders directly in front of our group than to whomever lined the roadway to watch us go by because with a lot of starting and stopping, I didn’t want to achieve local notoriety by running over a kid with pom poms.  I’d been somewhat worried about the heat gauge on my bike because at slow speeds and lots of idling bikes tend to run on the hot side and it was a problem with my radiator last summer that had the Piaggio in the shop from April through August.  Thankfully the parade didn’t stress the system and the fan and radiator did their jobs nicely to keep me rolling along like the caissons in yet another parade song.

Lunchtime is fast approaching so here’s as good a place as any to put this post to rest.  Yes, I did, after all, find some delight in being in a parade again!  The scooter has afforded me varieties of pleasant experiences I'd not otherwise have had over the past 11 years so I'm still very grateful for having seen the word, "Scooter," used as an example in a tutorial blog tag, remembering my Uncle Andy giving me a ride on a scooter when I was about five years old, and having my brain immediately jump on the subsequent thought of, “I want a scooter!”

There I am on the right leading the scooter pack. 


* When I say parades came to be much ado about nothing I do not mean to imply that our beloved war heroes shouldn't be honored.  I just fail to see how marching the current members of the Armed Forces and the equipment of war through the streets gives them the rich honor they deserve.