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Saturday, July 19, 2008
Random Parade Thoughts

"Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll" (Zechariah 5:1). If you want to know what a line from the Old Testament has to do with a parade, read on.

I did something today which I have never done: I watched the entire American Fork Steel Days parade. I was in it once or twice, from beginning to end, but I've never watched the whole thing before. It helped that some kind neighbors had some extra chairs strategically located in the shade. I'm gratefully attempting to get one of my children to bake them some cookies in return.

The pre-parade entertainment was . . . entertaining. It may have been new, or I may simply never have noticed it before. Among other things, there was a small group of wild west gunfighters taking shots at each other -- blanks, I think.

The American Fork Police Department had several motorcycle cops riding and maneuvering in formation at the head of the parade. They looked very good in their dress whites. But you didn't see Chief Lance Call in the parade. He was at the parade, to be sure, but not in it. I saw him riding a beat on a bicycle, in the same uniform his officers were wearing. He's more of a workhorse than a showhorse, apparently, but I think we already knew that.

American Fork's white fire engines look better in a parade than the yellow one Orem sent.

Repeated fly-bys of historic aircraft based at the Heber City Municipal Airport were fun, even if they didn't include a scheduled Stearman biplane, which reportedly had a dead battery and wouldn't start this morning.

There seemed to be fewer groups of cheerleaders than usual, and fewer floats with "royalty." I have marveled that our odd little culture seems to produce cheerleaders even before there are teams for which to cheer, but one parade-goer this morning advised me that even the youngest cheerleaders actually cheer at games where their peers are playing. I have also wondered at our fondness for "royalty" in a nation historically hostile to real monarchy. I will say this: Our simulated royalty is a lot easier on the eyes than most nations' real royalty. And parades are cheaper than palaces.

There were three marching bands. American Fork High's is always the biggest and the best, and probably the most popular thing in the parade. Lehi's was smaller but also sounded very good. Lone Peak's was small and didn't happen to play when I was within earshot. A couple of bands from The Music School -- I don't know which bands -- rode on trailers; they always sound good, too, and one of them also delighted the crowd with its distinctive yellow and black outfits.

There were announcers at several points along the route this year, instead of just one. It's a genuine improvement. Unfortunately, the announcer near my location needed a little help pronouncing names. He didn't get it. We got Councilman Shirl LEE-Baron, Representative John DUGG-uhl, and State Senator John ValentEEN.

Speaking of elected officials . . .

Mayor Heber Thompson and most of the City Council rode in the parade, one per car. Some of them later reported being advised by parade-goers at several points along the route that there should be no new taxes -- or in the case of the one City Councilor the press reported was battling against a large tax increase, that she should keep up the good work. (Several recent blog posts here address the possible tax increase. But back to the parade.)

There was a rule for parade entries: No throwing candy, etc., directly from vehicles. Any throw-aways were to be done by walkers. A lot of parade entries were throwing things -- mostly candy -- and virtually all of them obeyed the rule, except the Mayor, some of the City Councilors, the Chair of the Steel Days Committee, and the Utah Flash girl. Maybe they didn't read the memo.

And speaking of throw-aways -- my term, probably not the right one -- the crowd favorite was Costco's: individually wrapped rolls of bathroom tissue.

American Fork City's new float looked great. Floats are rather pricey, but I understand this one is supposed to last a decade or two.

You can't have a parade without pirates, these days. We had a fine-looking pirate from the Hale Center Theater, and later there was a pirate ship, too, complete with simulated cannon fire. I'm not sure of the logical connection between a pirate ship and the car dealership it was hawking, but the ship itself was well received.

I was a bit surprised when the parade ended. I wondered if it was shorter this year, but, having never before stayed to the end, I wouldn't know.

In any case, I tend to be a curmudgeon where parades are concerned. Any parade I actually enjoy is noteworthy.

Duly noted.

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