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10 Jul
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Learning to Appreciate the County Fair Parade

Float with water at the parade

I survived one of my least favorite parenting tasks this week…the county fair parade.

I have a high tolerance for all things kid-related, but the county fair parade has me actively attempting to bribe my children out of the whole affair.

It’s hot. We’re never there early enough to be in the shade. No matter how early I attempt to secure a shady spot, I fail…every year. People and chairs start showing up on sidewalks a full three hours before the parade start. During the parade, it seems socially acceptable for parents to allow children to snatch items from other people’s hands. The gathering of Tootsie Rolls at the fair parade is akin to gathering supplies from the cornucopia in The Hunger Games.

There are blocks of hiking in order to get from where the car is parked to where we’ll watch the parade. I spend the night before devising a strategy for where to park, so I can leave the parade within a reasonable time frame.

I spend parade morning mentally repeating, “I love my kids, and my kids love parades. I love my kids, and my kids love parades.” I smile. I pack hats, water, snacks, books, colored pencils, paper, blanket, camera and sunscreen. I load up giddy children anticipating being soaked by various parade entities toting water guns and hoarding more sticky candy than one family could/should possibly consume.

Paying respects to the flag as it passes

We sat for a little over an hour, the kiddos chatting and coloring pages I’d brought for distraction. No one was antsy or grumpy. I watched as a steady stream of people filled the sidewalks surrounding us. I’m amazed every year at the number of children and parents lining the streets. It’s truly a community event.

Every year my anti-parade heart melts at the same moment, when the police sirens start to wail to signal the beginning of the parade. All around us kids jump to their feet collectively turning heads to face the noise. The moment has come. My smile widens as the American flag crosses in front of us. I watch my little people take off their hats and place their right hand over their hearts unprompted by me.

Checking the spoils gathered at the parade

The excitement is palpable as that first handful of Tootsie Rolls is tossed in our direction. I might even say I enjoy the county parade as I watch arms wave begging for water to be sprayed in our direction. My kids, who I’ve never heard ask for a Tootsie Roll or Dum Dum sucker in their entire lives, will show each and every piece of candy they’ve saved from the grimy asphalt and added to our ridiculously growing pile. I can’t stop smiling during those moments of pure childhood bliss. For one moment, three boys realized the meaning of “jackpot” when a restaurant handed out free hot dogs along the parade route.

My dislike for the county fair parade was overshadowed by the joy it brought to the kiddos I was able to share my morning with. There was no better place to be. I’m grateful to live in a country where a parade is a memory my children are able to have. I’m grateful to have time to stand on a sidewalk and enjoy the squeals of children as those first blasts of cold water from squirt guns make contact with sun-heated skin. I’m grateful I moved past my resistance to the county fair parade and spent hours with children enjoying the summer festivities. I hope one day to wake up on parade day morning with the same excitement as my children. Crossing my fingers for more legitimate floats and more marching bands to help aid my appreciation.