Memorial Day Parade of Diversity

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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.

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5 Responses to “Memorial Day Parade of Diversity”

  1. Brenda says:

    I like parades. I try to take the rugrats to the St. Patricks Day Parade and the Lilac Festival Parade each year although we missed them both this year. They do offer a lot of diversity don’t they? I never really looked at it that way, but its true. The thing that sticks out in my mind about the last Lilac Parade I went to was Maggie Brooks light purple colored pumps she was wearing. I remember thinking “Man is she nuts. Her feet must be killing her!” I liked her shoes, but found them a bit impractical for a parade. If that was me, I definitely would have been wearing some purple Adidas with my suit.

  2. Joe Belle-Isle says:

    I confess, I came to this little FLAT spot of land not because it’s by the beach (After years of working oilrig boats I came to HATE salt water) but because I could get anywhere on a bicycle and had lost my drivers lic for 5 years. Once I got two DWI’s in one day and only vaguely remember one. The bridge to the mainland was only a couple of years old and we are still miles off the main Fla. route. But on the 1st parade I went to the legionaires came out in force to watch in wheelchairs and with medals they had earned in WWII and Korea. Now when there is a parade, like you said, there’s a football game and here the people don’t go to the parade unless their relatives are in it. There’s more people in the parade than watching. 2 “Wars” on, where fighter pilots kill from sattelite pictures taken from drones and they kill with buttons pushed right here, in the US. Pakistani’s say they are closing in on Al Quaada and the taliban from one side and we’re comeing in from the other. They ARE bad guys. But My Afghanistani VA supplied Psychiatrist says the Taliban IS Afghanistan. I don’t know what that means,
    Anybody that want’s to get up in the morning on a good football day and spend their time dressing for a memorial parade God bless ’em. America’s fought bigger battles than this and like Mom said- “Don’t worry so much about the wrongdoers, they all get caught sooner or later.” Soon there won’t be anyone left in that legion hall that remembers me. But I’d really like to know if back home in Rochester N.Y. if there were more spectators than there were relatives of people in the parade. All those different people smells like freedom to me too.

  3. Brenda says:

    I don’t know about Floriday JBI, but I do know when the Vets march by in the parade here, I make my children stand up and clap and yell. We aren’t the only ones in the crowd doing so either. Since, I am not from the area, I can safely say, I had no relatives in the parade that I know of anyway.

  4. Joe Belle-Isle says:

    Brenda, you were writing at the same time i was, If I’d read your post first mine would have been a moot question there. This place is backwards and the county and city decided to go after the rich northern retiree economy with some 30,000 more houses planned- so many the DOT won’t let any businesses build off the main highway that might cause a heavier than planned traffic.- besides restaurants and places people go to spend money- no new industries while the “New” residents demand we shut the two mills left down for being unsightly. With the housing being more important than jobs where will the rich retirees come from? I won’t live long enough to find out but more folks are trying to sell out than buy in as it is. Like my 90 yr old uncle said-I’m too old to worry about it anymore But so long as people are still trying to come here (To America) we must be the place to be. I stayed here because it was the first place I ever got drunk, cussed out a city cop, and had a Sherriff send me home when I woke up. I made up my mind right then any place they let me OUT of jail because all I did was get drunk, was the place for me. But I want to come back up through the Smokies when the trees are turning again, breathe yankee air, and see Lake Ontario one more time. You can leave N.Y. to see the world but you’ll always be a New Yorker. It’s just damn hard to tell people there are farms and hills in New york.

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