The Fourth of July
The post-9/11 patriotic attitude so prevalent throughout America was certainly evident in Beaver Island's well-attended Fourth of July parade, and when the two National Guard fighter jets flew over and then made a second pass, the thrill that swept across the onlookers was larger and more pronounced than ever before. The Island Airways' planes followed up with their Missing Man formation, producing another shudder of pride in the back of our collective neck.
Over 50 floats and groups of marchers gathered at the top of Daddy Frank's hill to start the new route the new curbs prevented the use of part of Main Street. Everyone wanted to get in on this event, from the police and fire department and EMS to the local businesses to groups of tap-dancers, horseback and mini-bike riders, platforms of people celebrating by singing Born in the USA or, in the case of Joddy's talented family and friends, the more laid-back mellow refrains for which he is known. Marching veterans stopped on the return trip for a ceremony in which the names of the missing were read, followed by a moment of silence.
The water-balloon aspect of the parade got a little out of hand and turned into a wet T-shirt contest, but because of the heat, nobody complained. The distribution of various pieces of candy was equally intense; even with Joddy playing his role of Clean-up Man, kids were still finding tootsie roles two and three days later. The carnival that followed on the Rectory lawn gave many the chance to prolong the festive moment. In the evening everyone came back to town to watch the fireworks, which proceeded with more quick bursts of various sizes and colors. From some vantage points the rim of high land circling the bay created an echo effect, doubling the spectacle. When it was finally all over at 10:45, we had a colossal traffic jamb on the roads leading out of town. Nobody minded: the sight of a few hundred sets of headlights in the rear-view mirror solidified the sense of this being a community which, in times such as these and despite the lingering existence of a few disputes, will pull together. That was the theme: Americans first, but also Beaver Islanders.
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