Monday, July 04, 2011

Wellfleet Celebrates Indpendence Day

“Happy 4th of July!” shouted a man leaving the parade. “It’s my favorite holiday.” Ditto that for lots of people, although I cannot say I share the patriotic fervor. In any case, Wellfleet really comes together to celebrate Independence Day with its annual parade. Fire engine sirens in the distance clued me in to hurry and clean up the breakfast dishes in order to get a good observation spot. While Sven and I stood at the intersection of Commercial and Main, waiting in the hot sun, I thought about parades past, and how my mother used to love attending with my children. They especially enjoyed the peanuts and candy that celebrants threw out the windows of antique cars. Sven and I stood opposite a family with lots of kids, who carried on the tradition of skirmishing with each other to grab the Tootsie Rolls that rained down from time to time, candies that even come with patriotic wrappers these days. There weren’t any peanuts, but the distribution of flyers was allowed, so Sven collected a fistful.

The theme, chosen by the Elementary School children, was the 50th anniversary of the National Seashore. While the park is certainly something to celebrate, its existence for half a century does not really lend itself to the creation of clever floats. The beach was an inspiration to many. One float carried a supply of salt hay and a rider who threw out a handful from time to time. There were marching trees, no-dogs allowed signs, and even “Pro-Crow Monroe,” a reminder that the superintendent had defended a Seashore policy of poisoning crows. (Remember? The crows were suspected of eating piping plover eggs.)

The parade itself was fun, if a bit disjointed with long periods between floats. My favorite was the message, “1.) Bail Boats, Not Banks 2.) Drop Anchors, Not Bombs 3.) Windpower, Not Coal,” a float that featured Wellfleet’s beloved pirate Caleb Potter, giving me the thumbs-up as he passed. The marchers against NStar came in second. You had to admire Roxana on her stilts as The Evil NStar, with the names of the herbicides inscribed down her cape, as well as the person inside the Smokey the Bear costume. The Furies Cleaning Service turned one of their cars into a vacuum cleaner. One marcher shucked oysters out of the back of a pick-up. The Wellfleet Historical Society celebrated 60 years of existence this year with a classy float: dignified founder Lydia Newcomb waved to the crowd.

I posted the photos before writing the text, so please note the article mentioned in the comment from Stan, below. I certainly agree with his remark. Wellfleet’s parade celebrates diversity of opinion as much as anything. Democrats, Republicans, for one day we are simply all Americans and proud to be.

Did you attend the parade today? Have you attended in the past? What do you like about Independence Day parades?