Thursday, December 31, 2009


When I was in SC recently (December 12, to be exact) I went for a walk in the morning. It was cold (well, dampy cold, as I call it, the way it gets in the south that makes you feel like it's much colder than it is). As I turned the corner away from my mother-in-law's house, I heard a fire engine siren, but it wasn't in a hurry.

I looked up the main street of town and realized,happily, that it was a parade! A standard Christmas parade in a small southern town. It was quite a democratic, big-tent, tolerant affair. Apparently anyone who wanted to parade could. There were the typical participants. Pretty girls--Miss Teen Duncan-Wellford-Lyman sitting high in the back seat of a convertible, and Miss (not-Teen) Duncan-Wellford-Lyman following, in a Camaro convertible. Politicians. Girl and Boy Scout troops. Teams and cheerleaders. Small business owners looking for some free advertising. Kiwanis and Lion's Club types. And those who just had interesting vehicles and were asked or decided on their own to be in the parade. A John Deere tractor. A Corvette. A few overweight slackers in old cars with the rock music turned up, having a good time. A sort of sawed-off fuselage of an airplane with sawed-off wings that represented the airport (ironically, an International one in Greer, International because of the BMW plant).

And finally, high atop the fire engine at the end, Santa Claus.

I do not go to parades; I happen upon them. And they are wonderful, surprising, serendipitous affairs. When I was a little girl, I was in baton twirling; why, I have no idea, but my parents made the sacrifice for me to have the little outfits, and the neighbor girls and I would go to the parades and think we were really something. Those were my last parades, on purpose. In May 1986, I happened upon the Chattanooga Armed Services Day parade, which was led by two very old men, veterans of WWI. I had gone downtown and couldn't get out! I happened upon football parades in Ringgold, again, stuck in traffic. And this most recent one, in Duncan. What fun, to be unexpectedly forced, or able to watch, such an absolutely useless but human activity. What purpose does a parade serve? None but pride, I can tell, but they are a kick.

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