You gotta love the Fourth of July (at least if you're a USAer). My day begins early as I bake pies (two pumpkin, two peanut butter) for the church social. I deliver them around 10:00 and then my husband and I do the once-a-year walk. Our little town is only about six blocks long, and on the Fourth the main street is closed to cars and the sidewalks become jam-packed with people, many of them old friends who've returned for the festivities. We walk all the way down one side of the street and then all the way back on the opposite side. In this way we see lots of folks we don't see very often, although as we age it's sometimes hard to recognize each other. There are lots of hugs and squeals as I recognize former students, former classmates, and family friends. We spend approximately a minute with each, catching up and lying to each other about how little we've changed.

My duties for the day include manning (or is that womanning?) the alumni tent, where we set up displays of bygone days, the "glory days" for so many when they were young and life offered endless possibilities. It's a wonderful mix of visitors: the old folks looking for some sign they're remembered by someone for something, and the younger ones curious to see what Grandma looked like way back when.

Other events are ongoing: a chicken dinner, entertainments, games for the kids, and softball tournaments.
At 12:30 comes the highlight of the day: the parade. We're fairly well known for the length and variety of our parade, and one local businessman has established a tradition of creating a surprise for the town each year. A metalworker, he and his staff work in secret for months to come up with astounding sculptures in massive sizes: a twenty-foot-tall George Washington's head, a massive frog with working jaws, an aquarium the size of a living room, and so on. (View slideshow at

After the parade, things calm down, and most of us return home for barbeques, baseball games, and time with family. Everyone is tired, probably a little sunburned, and satisfied. We've done the same thing we do every year on the Fourth, and somehow it never gets old. If this sounds like Americana at its best, it is.

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