Archive for May 25th, 2009

Memorial Day Parade of Diversity

Monday, May 25th, 2009


I just watched the Memorial Day Parade a few blocks from where I live. I forgot it was on until I had to go to an ATM machine and couldn’t get across Main Street. I usually hate parades but I stayed a long time because this one was so, well, strange.

There were the usual formations of impressive service people, marching in step, carrying flags, looking sharp. Of course, they got the biggest rounds of applause, as they should. And then kid marching bands sounding loud and great – like right out of the Music Man. They were cool. But between the main acts were some home-made floats and marchers that definitely had to be put in the MISCELLANEOUS columns.

There was a float advocating Foster Parents with a bunch of (I assume) foster kids hanging off the sides and I was afraid one would slip under the wheels of the float and get squished. Where were their parents?

Then came the Black Masons honoring Fredrick Douglass, one of Rochester’s own – followed by the Black Masons Women’s Auxiliary League all dressed in white honoring the Black Masons, I guess. Aren’t they all supposed to be secret?

Then a large contingent of Miracle Marchers for Christ or something surrounded a float of Bible Scriptures neatly lettered. They kind of sang and waved placards – without embarrassment.

Next a crew of women in 1800’s crummy clothes and bonnets with a spinning wheel marched by. I had no idea whom they represented but figured Rochester’s Museum must have had a garage sale and where else would they wear these get-ups?

Two, three-wheeled anti-smoking, billboard bicyclists rolled by and the kids lying on the bikes looked real bored. It seemed like they wanted to go faster but had to stay in line behind some slow, old women’s auxiliary without a matching men’s set. I know the women were slow because there was a looong gap between the previous act and theirs.

My favorite “float” was this huge truck advertising the Salvation Army. I don’t know – “Army” – Memorial Day, get it? But anyway, this old guy on the sidewalk yelled, “You got any furniture in the back? I need a couch!” And everyone laughed.

At first I wondered if this was all kind of disrespectful to the Veterans whom we are honoring today but I don’t think so. They fought for America’s freedom and this parade was one of the best examples of freedom I’ve seen in years.