Monday, July 03, 2006

4th of July

Happy 4th!

Since we moved to Vermont, the 4th of July has become my favorite holiday. The weather is great. No gifts to buy. No traveling required. Zero stress. BBQs. Relaxing with friends. And best of all...Montpelier's 4th of July Parade.

Almost every town has some sort of parade around the fourth and we usually hit three or four of them. I could pretend it's just for the kids but the fact is that I love them too. Particularly Montpelier's. The thing I love is the traditional slice of Americana it represents along with the contrast between all of the things and people in the parade. The organic farmers march with the Civil War re-enactors who march with dancing hippies who march with the politicians who march with the protesters who march with the kids who decorated their bikes who march with the local minor league baseball team and so on and so on. All of it weaves together into a wildly entertaining slice of our community. So, with that in mind, here we go...

After enjoying some great beer-soaked brats and burgers at a friend's BBQ, we headed over to the parade and took our usual spot along the state house lawn. As always, kicking it's the politicians.

Sen. Jeffords, in his last parade as a sitting senator, got the largest round of applause.

Next up was Jeffords' likely replacement, Rep. Bernie Sanders. Nationwide, he's a bit of a polarizing figure but in VT, he gets about 60% of the vote. He even does well in the blue-collar conservative region in the northeastern part of the state.

Come on! Name another state where the sitting Treasurer is driving a farm loader in a parade! In the past, Jeb Spaulding has walked on stilts in the parade. Talented fellow.

And if everything goes as planned, State Senator Welch will replace Bernie in the US House.

Next up were the kids on their bikes. You can't see it well in this picture but most of them had their bikes decked out in red, white and blue decorations.

Followed by the wacky bikes.

The Lyme Town Band. I've never even heard of the town of Lyme.

This one was my son's favorite which makes sense for a four-yeal-old boy. It's the local minor league baseball team, the Vermont Mountaineers, on top of a firetruck. Little boy nirvana.

By the way, after topping Sanford 2-0 this afternoon, the Mountaineers are 14-7 and enjoy a three-game lead in the Northern Division. The amusing part of today's game is that it was a make-up game from Friday's rain-out and they forgot to notify the umpires. After realizing they didn't have any umps, the team called a local guy who left work early and came over and umped the game alone. Such a typical northern New England way of doing things.

As my friend, Nik, always pointed out...Americans love things that rhyme. If it rhymes, it must be true!

And after the "no nukes lady", come some of the sailors from the USS Montpelier which is an active nuclear attack submarine. Oh, I love the back-to-back contrasts of this parade.

My wife and I were having dinner outside at Conoscenti last night when a few of the sailors walked by in their dress whites. We both immediately had the same thought..."It's Fleet Week in Montpelier???"

Next up was Chris Robinson and his band promoting the Washington County Family Center. Looks like they need a bass player. Hmmm, I wonder where they could find a bass player...hmmm.

Did someone ask for dancing hippies?

And who did the parade organizers put right after the dancing hippies? That's right. The Civil Air Patrol. With their shiny helmets, they look like the ROTC guys from Omega House.

Apparently, Montpelier has a unicylcer club.

Next up were the farmers. Another big hit with the little ones.

I gotta get me a set of "green walls".

Time for the beauty queens. Where's the guy with the "Fuck Barbie" shirt when you need him?

And what do you put right after the beauty queens? That's right. Dancing pagans banging sticks together. Such a great parade.

It's not a 4th of July parade until you have a few white folks in Che Guevera t-shirts playing steel drums.

The Raging Grannies. Seriously, don't fuck with the Raging Grannies.

Kevin of Buch Spieler rocking out "Aiko Aiko".

These guys are my favorites. The Shriners are a bunch of old guys who are probably jacked up on about 1,600 mg of ibuprofen as they cruise around in these little go-carts high-fiving all of the kids along the parade route. The thing I love is when they drive up and over their accompanying truck (which doesn't stop) on the ramps attached to the roof. It's great. Everyone goes nuts for these guys.

Coming down the ramp.

The back of the truck that the go-carts go up.

This guy freaked out my son. I'm sure he'll be waking up any minute now screaming about a bad dream. I'm blaming this guy when that happens.

These are the folks that want VT to secede from the US. Ever since they published their newsletter about how 9/11 was a big federal conspiracy, I've dismissed them. This little showing didn't win me back.

By the way, in continuing the "contrast vibe", the parade organizers put these guys right after The League of Women Voters. So, The League of Women Voters came through encouraging everyone to register to vote. Then these guys came through with banners saying "Refuse to Register". Some parade organizer has a great sense of humor.

Next up...Bread & Puppet. Love 'em or hate 'em, they always put on a good show.

More protesters against Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Bread & Puppet's bus. Yep, they're hippies.

And what should follow an anarchist theater group? That's right. The minor league basketball team.

Followed by...Civil War re-enactors. I like how re-enactors always make themselves Generals.

Time for an oompa band and some laderhousen.

The beginning of the end. Smokey the Bear. You can just see his hat behind the tractor's wheel.

The firetrucks are always the big grand finale.

Another year. Another great parade.

After the parade, there's a two-hour party on the state house lawn which is concluded with a fireworks show. And tomorrow, on the actual 4th, we'll hit the Worcester parade (11 a.m.) which is followed by the Strawberry Festival at the Methodist Church and chicken BBQ on Ladd's Field.

Now do you see why the 4th of July is my favorite holiday?

Sufjan Stevens | The Star Spangled Banner (Live)


yankunian said...

Yay! Thanks so much for the excellent coverage... feel like I was right there. Same with the world cup reportage. What an experience.

Back in the UK, where they definitely DON'T celebrate July 4...

yankunian said...

Oh, check this guy out - great mixes.

Jim said...

Looks like a lot of fun.

So did every Haight-Ashbury refugee end up moving to Vermont at some point? It sure looks like it.

kingdomforavoice said...

I'm most interested in the fried dough stand in most of the pictures. Is that a parade only feature of the town or is it always there?

Flatlander said...


I'm glad you liked it and thanks for the link. Thanks for the tip on the mixes also.


A lot of hippies moved to VT in the 60's and 70's. However, unlike San Francisco, VT remained inexpensive to live in. So, they never left. Now we are into third generation of hippies.


Ha! It's temporary. On the day of the parade, the streets are lined with food and clothing vendors. I picked up a new Frost Heaves hat from the team's vending booth.

K. said...

Nice picts Murf. I don't know what the Shriners do but when I am 65+ you can guarantee I am signing up those guys are awesome.

Flatlander said...

I think the Shriners raise money for and operate a bunch of hospitals for kids. They're somehow related to the Masons which always freaks people out with their secrecy. But I'm simple. As long as they keep entertaining me with their cool little cars, they are fine with me.

By the way, if you ever go to the big homecoming parade in Barre, the shriners drive little firetrucks around in that parade. Then they drive into the back of a deliverary truck, somehow turnaround without stopping and come flying out the back. Not as cool as driving over the roof of the truck but still pretty entertaining.

jds said...

I was wondering where you were camped out. We were much closer to the middle of town, across from the TinyMeat peoples.
Did you notice who the Che loving "Panache" group were advertising? Allen Lumber! Talk about contrast vibe.
And the sad, sad 2nd VT Republic. Nothing like tanking the smidge of credibility that you probably never even had.
My wife marched with the Raging Grannies. I have no idea how that happened.

jds said...

btw, did that old fire engine that the Mountaineers were riding on look familiar? It's the one that's featured in Fred Levine's Fire and Rescue video. I know so much more about the working world because of that guy!

Thirtyseven said...

That was a very entertaining read, thank you.

Those damn hippies, always having fun and enjoying themselves and shit. Must drive people crazy, what a bunch of assholes!

I'm just biased cuz I grew up with just about everyone you made fun of. I make fun of them, too.

Flatlander said...

I just went through my entire post and can't find any place where I made fun of hippies. I do make fun of hippies regularly but I can't find any in this post.

The Che Guevera line is just a statement about the silliness of wearing Che Guevera t-shirts these days. The shirt is more of a chic fashion statement these days than anything revolutionary.

But if you were refering to another post where I was making fun of hippies, then you are right. I often do mock them. The same way I mock the indie kids, the jam fans, the punks and republicans. Don't sweat it. It's all good fun.