A crabby middle aged city girl reviews a suburban 4th of July parade

A crabby middle aged city girl reviews a suburban 4th of July parade
photo courtesy of aewang on Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

I’m a city girl. I am not so much a “hater of suburbs” as I am a “lover of big cities.” But I’m well out of my 20’s and have a kid now, so I can no longer live by Chicago bread alone.  These days, I often head north for better parking.

Also: I've been crabby this week.

So, I attended a 4th of July parade in a northern suburb of Chicago this past Friday, and I will now share my thoughts on the event. (The specific suburb doesn’t  matter. The parades are all the same)


Seriously, save it for the fake battlefield, soldiers.  I know it seemed like a good idea when it was first proposed to the city council, but it takes a big suburb to admit it was wrong.  Firing a fake cannon during a 4th of July parade, with its lung deflating, liver crushing BOOM, is simply the worst idea ever.

This past Friday, when you set off that fake-ass cannon, a little girl, aged four or so, dropped her popsicle to the ground when the nerve endings in her tiny fingers dissolved.  Terror melted her facial skin downwards like she had heard, well, A CIVIL WAR CANNON.

My friend, a grandmother, quickly scooped the little girl into her arms and held her tightly while I rubbed her arms and back, locking eyes with her in an attempt to bring her back from the Mental Ward to which her four year old consciousness had retreated.  It took two surrogate matriarchs to begin to undo your party trick, Big Fake Cannon shooters.

Now, I’m sure that shooting that big fake gun is your right, dammit. (Sigh) So if you still insist on showing everyone how big your cannon is, then let’s announce it over some sort of anachronistic contraption made for amplifying the human voice.  Let’s give parents the opportunity to protect their kids from being assaulted by a noise that, I’m pretty sure, made my nose bleed a little bit. Not to mention the elderly folks at the parade with hearts weakened over time….

(Wait. Was that a Civil War reenactment group? At a Independence Day parade? That’s weird, right? Mmmkay, moving on....)

Medinah Shriners!  God bless you for what you do in this world, but it needs to be said: You’re creeping the kids out.

That fez-donned oboe orchestra on the flatbed truck is working against you, fellas. (Reeded instruments are clearly a hobby for your good-hearted gentlemen, but an oboe played by an amateur is an oboe played by a bad oboe player) You are not helping your cause when your clowns (who, as a group, are having image problems of their own) are peeking out of vehicles resembling a creepy old man ice cream truck.

It’s 2014, guys. Your image is as behind the times as the Country Bear Jamboree automatons at Disneyworld. You guys need to take the whole operation back to the drawing board, and pull yourselves into the modern world.

I’m sure there are some deep-seated traditions to honor, but perhaps you can study how Chicago architects incorporate into new buildings ELEMENTS of previous architectural styles. You don’t have to throw away those symbols you hold dear about your organization. Just modernize.  (You can keep the tiny cars. They still work.)

Less showroom cars, more floats. 

It’s a parade!  At least look like you’re trying. Your parade of local business advertising is too transparent, even a tad garish. Is it so hard to borrow a flatbed truck and buy some tissue paper? Rent a sound system, yo. A boombox held near the window by your bored kid seems more patronizing than patriotic.

And the only two kinds of people who should be in convertibles are 1) women wearing a sash across their chest or b), the Grand Marshall.  (Politicians should walk amongst us, shaking hands, kissing babies, and handing out swag with their name on it.)

You can never have too many girl scouts/boy scouts in a 4th of July parade.  

Yes! to kids in scout uniforms, their sweaty fingers clasping a wooden dowel with a cheap plastic flag on the end, followed by bad-postured scout leaders wearing fanny packs made to hold three water bottles at a time. To me, that’s what a hometown 4th of July parade is all about.

MORE Folk dancers!

Folk dancing groups always look like they are in an ecstatic trance. The moves are alarmingly simple, but mesmerizing. I love seeing the sexy nuances brought to the moves by the man-next door dancers, both straight and gay. I love the otherwise frumpy middle aged women who KNOW they are flat out bombshells as they folk dance their way down that hot, hot pavement of strip-malled uniformity..

A indulgent political rumination: These folkdancing groups are a fantastic reminder that we can share common ground, yet still bring our unique swishes, jiggles, and giggles to the dance. (Are you listening, political parties?)

And finally

High School Band Programs: Enough of the plumed hats, cats.

civil war band

Generally speaking, band geeks start out with negative cool points. (I was a band geek. I know of what I speak.) You further perpetuate the band geek stereotype by dressing them in polyester band pants/plastic bib combos like they are part of an old army band playing the soldiers out to the Battle of Bunker Hill..

(And don’t get me STARTED on the mental abuse being inflicted on the flag corps by way of tacky uniforms.  For starters, there is no such thing as a wholly asexual uni-tard. Period.)

Certainly, bands have been under the tutelage of the military in the past. But maybe it's time to let that go. If the Medinah Shriners can do it....

Oh, and great fireworks, suburbs.. I liked the sprinkler-ey one. Never seen that one before…


That's my piece, and that's my peace. Thank you for taking the time to read my silly words. It means the world. Carry on...

Old Single Mom
If you enjoyed our time together, and would like to stick with me, please feel free to type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. I would love to have you along for the ride. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.


Leave a comment