Fourth of July

After much drama and consternation about its future, the 2008 Fourth of July Parade is over.  The weather was great, there were lots of people and I enjoyed being part of it. 

When I asked spectators what they thought, the most common answer I heard was:

“A bunch of trucks.”

As an enthusiastic watcher of every previous version of this parade, I know exactly what they meant. 

Fire trucks.  Tractors.  Wood trucks.  Heavy equipment.

Where are all the floats?  The crepe paper and balloons?  Kids on bikes?  People in funny hats?

Maybe the biggest issue with the parade isn’t about who is or isn’t allowed to march, but rather, the fact that it’s become too darned somber.  A long line of public safety vehicles is many things – powerful, poignant, reverential.  Military people are poignant, honorable, reverential.  Free speech messages, whether you think they belong there or not, are important, honorable, depressing.  And so forth.  

But where’s all the fun?  Where is the visual spectacle?  How about more levity and celebration to balance out the serious parts?  

Thank goodness for Atkins Farms, with its people dressed up as produce, tossing apples and donuts to the crowd.  There are also bagpipers, martial artists, a couple of antique cars, and some other such attractions.  The parade needs more of all that – more fun, more silliness, more joy.  I wouldn’t want less of what we have – I love the trucks, the farm equipment and the reverence; but I’d love to see more of the fun stuff too – more music, more animals, more pageantry.

But here I go, projecting my preferences on to the parade.  Maybe I need to take out a permit next year too…

Other musings:

  Politicians are better off in convertibles or on floats.  First of all, half the spectators don’t know who these random smiley wavers are anyway, and second of all, they (we) stop and talk to people too much. 

  I wonder if Congressman Olver, State Senator Rosenberg and State Representative Story were marching as “official representatives” of their elected bodies.  Apparently none were granted permission to carry their official banners.  Or maybe they couldn’t find them.

  Did I miss the military fly-over, or was there not one this year?  I’m a sucker for those. 

  Toward the end of the parade route, a small adorable child ran into the street and over to me, and reached up to take the little flag I was carrying, then ran back to the sidewalk.  Odd.  But I’m glad he wanted it.

  Impressive crowd!  I’ve only watched the parade previously from the end of my street – this year, the parade ended at Triangle instead of heading down North Pleasant to Mass. Ave. – so I haven’t seen the downtown crowds before.  I was amazed at how early folks were setting up their chairs and staking out their viewing spots.

  Festivities at the stadium were great.  Face painting, potato sack races, pie eating contests, the Amherst Community Band, tethered hot air balloon rides, and more.  Like fried dough.  Can’t even imagine when the last time was that I had fried dough, and yowza, that was delicious.

  Also: another fantastic fireworks display.  If you enjoyed it too, please consider sending a donation to help cover the expense to:  “Amherst Fireworks Fund” LSSE, Bangs Community Center,70 Boltwood Walk, Amherst MA 01002

  Many thanks to the Amherst Fourth of July Parade Committee, LSSE, and all who worked so hard to create yesterday’s terrific events.   


Larry Kelley said:

"Too darned somber"?! So what the hell do you think the town's Protest Parade is going to look like next year with all those signs exploiting for political purposes the all too many men and women have given their "last measure of devotion" in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Or uber-zealots like Jon Nelms carrying signs saying, “Patriotism is a license to kill.” Only slightly better than his “Seig Heil” sign from a few years back.

But hey, maybe the Town Mangler will actually march in the town parade. Gee, now there’s a selling point.

a guy said:

Director of Communications, Deerfield Academy - The successful candidate will possess: a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, or an equivalent profession, plus a minimum of 10 years of progressively responsible professional experience in developing communications or a public relations setting, demonstrated proficiency to write in a variety of formats, including news media, magazines, brochures, internal communications and newsletters, excellent verbal and interpersonal skills, demonstrated ability to develop and implement comprehensive communication plans, effective negotiation skills in developing contracts with external vendors, familiarity with technological aspects of the field (software, interfaces, etc.), familiarity with graphic design/layout principles and production, experience with cost estimating and budgeting for a variety of projects, ability to work under tight deadlines, creativity, project development, analytical and management skills, and ability to motivate and manage a high quality staff, and hire new talent. Interested candidates should send a letter of interest and résumé by August 1, 2008 to: Human Resources Department, P.O. Box 87, Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, MA 01342, or e-mail If you are interested in learning more about the position, or know of someone who might be interested, please let Jan Kari know at by July 21.

Nancy said:

I'm concerned about the Amherst First proposal reported so benignly yesterday in the Gazette but presented differently on the Springfield Republican's website's "local buzz": .

Would you mind looking into this a bit more?


Thank you Nancy.

This group made a presentation to the Select Board. It did not specifically request anything from the Town. Were the Town to consider an active involvement with this, then I think it would be necessary for the Town to devote more scrutiny and consideration to the organization and its plans. I think that as just a potential recipient of a potential future gift, the Town is in a different position.

Anonymous said:

If you think the valley leftists will make a fun protest parade next year, wait until all the right wingers come out as well.

We can start with those alleged Christians (emphasis on alleged) who like to protest veteran funerals because the military somehow is too tolerant of homosexuality (I *think* that is their rationale), the Klan in their pointy white hats on their pointy little heads, the Buchanan Brigade and the rest of the populists.

Oh, lets have a taxpayer-funded orgy in incivility and perhaps Charlie (Bull Connor) Sherpa will realize that dealing with drunken UMass students isn't so bad after all. And if you somehow think that free speech is only that speech with which you agree, think again...

And the float I want to see: Jail The Town Manager -- yes, that would be protected speech, as if you can call for one politician to be jailed (Bush) you can call for another.

Anonymous said:

0ne other thing: Democrats didn't have any flags.

The Obama float -- no US flags. The Atkins Float -- covered with them. The Town Dems -- marching with blank placards. The sole Republican -- many flags.

So what is it with the dems and flags????

Anonymous said:

NO flag's no flag pins. Why do they hate Amerika? ;-) Get a grip

Anonymous said:

Convertibles for our elected representatives, that's fair.

Anonymous said:

Hybrid convertibles that run on low-carbon emmision fuel, that's fair and in keeping with leadership's role in setting an example.



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