For most people here in town, The Moxie Festival is a marker, a pin on the seasonal map that says “this is the high point of summer.” In anticipation, everyone drags their chairs down to Route 196 and prepares to watch the big parade go by.
For the last many years, I’ve been watching the parade from a shady spot across from The Bait Shop. Good friends of my parents have welcomed us to share their pleasant and cool location about mid-way along the parade route and we’d sit on the edge of our lawn chairs chatting and listening for the sounds of the first parade unit. We’d snap to attention and put our hands on our hearts as the first flags passed by and then we’d sit down again until another flag passed.
The good local people build floats and decorate their trucks. Municipal bands sit on top of flatbeds and oooom pah pah their way along the winding parade route. This year, we had the distinct pleasure to welcome a marching band from Wisconsin and they deftly tootled and twirled and turned the corner onto Main Street to the applause of thousands.
There are many unusual entries unique to our little town’s parade. For instance, a man of the cloth might don distinctively different clerical apparel.
There are politicians. Of course, there are always politicians, but some years there are more than others because there are these civic exercises called elections. I don’t want to be a downer, but I don’t care for the parade politicians anymore, unless they’re also neighbors here on the family compound where I’ll be living for just a few more weeks. Before the last couple of parades, my mother has had to warn me in advance that she doesn’t appreciate it when I shout out somewhat unladylike things as certain members of both political parties sidle by, waving like marionettes and pageant princesses.
This year, I decided there was only one way I could handle the parade and the politicians, and improve my mother’s parade experience. I volunteered my services at the parade line up.
From 6:00 a.m. until the parade starts, floats and characters of all stripes arrive at Capital Avenue. Uncle Bob even made an appearance on his bicycle.
You can only imagine me delighting in the delicious irony of telling local officials, the governor, U.S. Senators and Representatives, and various political hopefuls “where to go.”
When I wasn’t bossing the politicians around, I was walking about the circle for a few hours, seeing all the parade entries, and talking to new friends and old. Once everyone was lined up and ready to go, Gina Mason gave the sign from her John Deere gator and the parade became its own living thing. I had a choice to ride with her or walk along the parade route, so I decided to do the latter and I marched alongside the Lakeside Lutheran Warriors all the way from the start of the parade to the former Holy Family Church. Occasionally, I’d stop to hug old friends and encourage my neighbors to cheer on the band. They didn’t need my encouragement, though.
Then I walked back up to Capital Avenue and jumped in the gator with Gina. Excuse my unladylike language, but I had so much friggen’ fun; I don’t know why more people don’t volunteer to help with the parade. Honestly, there would only be one way The Moxie Festival could be any more exciting than it was this year and that would be if I was on a float in the parade.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but yesterday I started scheming out a parade float in my mind. A flatbed truck, a few high-end appliances, maybe some pots and pans and some folks wearing aprons and twirling wooden spoons. I could include some winners of The Moxie Recipe Contest sitting on kitchen stools, waving like princesses and rocks stars.
Can you see it? It just might work.
(All photos courtesy of Debra Wagner, except “unofficial” Uncle Bob.)