Sunday, June 18, 2006

Small town parades are HUGE!!

This year is the 200th Anniversary of Broome County, of which Binghamton is the county seat and all around biggest city (it is home to about 45,000 of the county's 200,000 residents). That means that downtown Binghamton played host to the bicentennial parade, and John and I took the time to head down and check it out.

Now, normally, I could not care less about parades. The last 2 I went to really sucked- 1 was in London on St. Patrick's day and 1 was in Downtown Los Angeles, also on St. Patrick's day. They had about as much soul as George W. Bush (although the London one got points for allowing open containers of beer). But this parade was destined to be different- the local paper reported that the parade organizers had to cut off parade entrants because they were at almost 200 and couldn't handle any more. TWO HUNDRED? That's 1 parade entry per 1,000 people in the county. Now I was intrigued.

The parade started at 11:00 am on a Saturday, in the rain. The route was pretty short- probably 1/2 mile through our tiny downtown, but what it lacked in distance it made up for in sheer quantity: despite the rain, 175 entries participated. After about 1 1/2 hours of John and I sitting/squatting in a doorway out of the rain, I said, about every 30 minutes, "That must be about it, right?" and John would pop his head out of our alcove, peer down the street, and say "No, I still see a LOT of fire engines coming down the road." The parade lasted a FULL TWO AND A HALF HOURS.

Don't be too fooled that it might have been cool. It was mostly a parade of municipal cars, firemen, politicians, really really really bad school bands, a couple ethnic organizations, etc. We knew we were seeing a real down-home parade when the local "mammography van" from the health center cruised by, followed by a shuttle bus from an old folks home. The best part was that it was full of REALLY old people inside, trying to wave through the darkened glass windows.

At some point, a guy came by and gave us little plastic American flags, that were prominently printed with "Made in China" on the stick. That's what John's waving in the photos as he drinks his coffee in the rain. As corny as the parade was, it was still a heck of a lot better than the Big City versions. However, I do think that having that many people participating in the parade really cut down on attendance- there were FAR more people IN the parade than watching it!

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