|Wilmore says “Happy Birthday, America!”|
Phil Tallon invited us to the Fourth of July celebration in Wilmore. “It’s a real sweet parade,” he said. “It just feels like the idealized version of America.” So we agreed to meet his family and Andy, Hannah and Sam in Wilmore. The parade was scheduled to start at 10 am.
We brought our lawn chairs. Andy laughed when we asked if there would be opportunity to set them up. “There will be plenty of room.” We arrived at 9:40 and spotted Sam playing on the equipment behind the Methodist Church, although Sam was more interested in watching the antics of the big boys playing than in actually playing himself. Nevertheless, he had his own fun with a stick, digging in the dirt and flinging bits of gravel around.
We set our chairs beside some lovely white haired ladies who I’m sure have seen many a parade! Before the parade started Sam was entranced by a cascade of patriotic balloons affixed to a light pole. “Do you want to go see the balloons?” That is Sam’s code for communicating, “I want to see the balloons.” So we walked across the street so that Sam could bat the balloons. I walked down the street past women selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts as a missions fund-raiser. I went into “Solomon’s Porch” where I bought iced tea for Kathy and me. I spent $3.00 and got 12 oz of iced tea as well as refill privileges.
Phil, Karen and their friends joined us. Between them and their friends there were four little pre-school girls who crowded together on a blanket at the curbside. And the parade began.
The humidity was high, but it was overcast – much more of a Seattle-like day than a summer day in Kentucky! Sam sat on Mommy’s lap. He watched the parade entrants solemnly – the row of firetrucks, the horses, the John Deere tractors. Sometimes people threw candy to the kids. The highlight of the parade (at least to a little boy who loves lawn mowers) was the Lawn Mower Brigade – men wearing shirts, shorts and ties who marched behind puttering mowers. Occasionally they would execute choreographed movements, twirling their mowers in circles or flapping their arms. “Bye-bye, lawn mowers,” Sam said.
After the parade was over we folded up our lawn chairs, deposited them in the car’s trunk, visited Solomon’s Porch for an iced tea refill, and walked down the street to the city park for more celebration. There were some local craftsmen selling handmade items, and hot dogs for sale: 25 cents each. I stood in line and bought 14 hot dogs for our families. “How many hot dogs do you sell on the Fourth of July?” I asked. The vendor sighed, “I don’t know. A lot.”
Meanwhile the leader of the band began their music by praying a thanks for American freedoms. They played The Star Spangled Banner and then My Old Kentucky Home. Sam was transfixed by the drummer and watched a while. “Man playing the drum.” Then he began dancing to the music and finally looked at his daddy. “Where are the drumsticks?” Andy scoured the ground for two sticks and Sam happily beat on a picnic table bench to accompany the band.
Before leaving Wilmore we went back to Solomon’s Porch and ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for Sam (peanut butter must be at least as all American as hot dogs!) and more iced tea.
A sweet parade, a community celebration, and knowledge that sometimes the best memories are not ones that cost $79.95 via Disneyworld. The best memories can be iced tea, two sticks and lawn mowers. We are thankful for all of it. Happy Birthday, America!