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Don’t Let the Parade Pass You By

The annual 4th of July parade is always fun and a terrific opportunity for us all to remember what’s important. Even with our war memories receding, that hard won freedom is still celebrated. The local officials don their white clothes and sashes, boys and girls line up with their scout troops and local veterans march in line as we clap and cheer their service.

The fun part starts with the decorated bikes and floats. This year, Zettie Louise asked me if Junior and Daisy could ride on a float she wanted to construct and pull with her motorbike and I gladly accepted. She wanted me to help with costumes for the kids, so two days later she invited me down to her house to see what she had already built. When I arrived, I realized she had moved her heavy dining room table off to one side of the room and covered it so that she could place her construction tools on it.

A wide chassis on 3 wheels was in its place and the start of a 5 sided star was waiting for placement on top. Vache sacree! Zettie Louise explained her plans to build a floor on the star for the kids to stand on, decorate it with red, white and blue paint trim and build a sparkly skirt around the bottom. She was sure the kids could balance on it if she added a post with handles on it.

I quietly circled the float to try and imagine it in my head and wondered how she intended to get it out of the dining room. She must have sensed my disbelief and started asking me if I had some thoughts on how to improve it. She humbly backpedalled on her abilities to make it parade-worthy and her speech was speeding up nervously as she continued. I realized that I had to say something and quickly stopped her by telling her how much greater the float was than I imagined. I did ask her about her intentions of removing the chassis when she finished and she was silent. She realized her error but quickly came up with a solution.

She told me that Steve would help her remove the large window in the room to take it out. I gently suggested that maybe the float chassis could be moved prior to putting on the base, perhaps to the garage for the rest of the work. Zettie Louise chuckled to herself a little and seemed embarrassed. I asked Zettie Louise if we could stop for a cup of tea and she gladly led me back to the kitchen. We then had a chance to discuss the costumes.

Zettie Louise was sure that Daisy would be a great Lady Liberty and I figured I could probably get that outfit together. Then Zettie Louise told me that Junior would make a great Italian immigrant and I paused. I couldn’t quite see making Junior’s hair black and she wanted him to have a mustache. Luckily, I had a small brainstorm, and suggested that Junior dress as Uncle Sam. Zettie Louise clapped her hands and agreed wholeheartedly. It would be a little more work for me to figure out but a little easier on my son.

Long story short, I am glad to report that Zettie Louise, dressed as a flag in a white cap, red shirt and blue pants, pulled the float with her decorated motorbike. What a festive sight! Luckily, I put a little sun suit on Daisy under her robes since one shoulder dropped with all her waving. Daisy’s paper mache torch held up well even when she poked Junior with it when he annoyed her. Junior looked dapper in a tall hat I glittered in red, white and blue. His cotton beard and striped pants, hand-painted in my utility room, were topped by a little blue jacket with a white shirt underneath.

The cherry on top was that the float won first prize! What a happy sight to see Zettie Louise jumping around the stage in the park with the children joining her to accept the prize. The five dollar prize wouldn’t cover the cost for Zettie Louise with all the hours she put in and she gave the money to the children to split. Zettie Louise was so happy with her float that she pulled it behind her motorbike to the grocery and the neighborhood for the next few days. Celebration is good for everyone.

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