As you're reading this, I hope you're getting ready to come on down to Whiting's Fourth of July Parade, the oldest in the Calumet Region at 94 years.
The parade begins at Lake Avenue and 116th Street and makes its way down Indianapolis Boulevard to 119th Street, where it continues its journey and ends at the lakefront.
Everyone will be in their "assigned seats" which reflect how long your family has always sat in that exact same spot or how early a loved one gets there to place your lawn chairs on your territory. This applies just as well to those loyal folks who attend the annual parade. And in typical small town fashion, if you really needed to find a particular person, you probably know where to find them along the route.
A few of my favorite entries are our local school bands, St. John the Baptist, and the Whiting and Clark high school bands. They always elicit a real sense of hometown pride for those of us who live here. I also enjoy the Jesse White Tumblers, who do absolutely amazing acrobatic tricks, as well as the kilted bagpipers who perform.
But my newest favorite is the Association of Charros. Their horses are magnificent and their riders' costumes are just breathtaking. I'm not a huge horse fan, but one cannot help but be impressed with their strength, power and grace as they cantor down 119th Street. And there always seems to be a little child in costume on a smaller horse who guarantees that this wonderful tradition will continue for years to come.
I defy anyone to attend a 4th of July Parade anywhere and not get choked up more than once when groups like the American Legion or the Vietnam Veterans of America march by, so proudly, bearing the flag of our country that they have so gallantly served.
There are also entries I remember as a kid that are no longer in the parade. Every year at the parade I think about them.
One was a teenager who wore this really funky flag dress as she roller skated the entire parade route. She was always one of my favorites.
The other was a husband and wife team with their little blond kids, two boys and a girl. The kids always wore sailor hats and carried white wooden rifles. I remember back when the youngest was so tiny, they pulled him along the route in a little red wagon. But the kids would do a little drill and then march. I have no idea who they are or why they were in the parade. And by now, that husband and wife must be grandparents. They were just the sweetest family and I miss them.
There's always something new in the parade but I think it's the old traditions that we all enjoy the most. It's the Elks carrying their donation flag, the afternoon barbeques, the fireworks displays, and little kids in the crowd innocently waving flags. It's small town America at its best and isn't that always a great thing to celebrate!