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 off...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)
Monday, July 03, 2006