This year's theme, "A World of Music," seemed like it would allow for limitless ideas. Somehow, though, most floats turned to the song, "This Land Is Your Land" to fit the theme. I'm thinking that parades should be treated like potluck dinners—you can't have everyone bringing potato salad. Who monitors these things? Anyway, as I said, the parade started out just fine.
A nice traditional fife and drum corps, commemorating America's independence:
A surprise visit from our governor, Deval Patrick! Very nice!
Deval was followed, with a number of exceptions, by a significant number of floats carrying people that I swear I have seen on PCTV late at night when they show headshots of the sex offenders in town. In fact, we wondered if participating was part of their required community service. Harsh, I know, but I am proud of my hometown and am very concerned about the future of this parade. More than that, I am concerned for the children at this parade who have no idea that the Uncle-Sam-on-Stilts-Guy is seriously sketchy and undeniably stoned.
And then, to me, the parade took another disturbing turn. As I understand it, a number of area churches joined as one big group to walk, float, ride motorcycles...and reenact Jesus' crucifixion?!?
The procession came to a halt for a few minutes with this, the second of the Stations of the Cross, right in front of my spot on the curb. I was forced to take in the inappropriateness of this (lazy man's) reenactment of one of Christianity's holiest events. Worse still, he has strapped his fanny pack to the base of the wheely cross.
All of this begs the question, what is the purpose of a parade? And what should be included in (or excluded from) a Fourth of July parade? Separation of church and state, anyone? Should anyone who attended this year's parade arrive here after googling "pittsfield fourth of july crucifix," please leave a comment.
I feel silly imposing such criticism on a hometown parade. According to the Berkshire Eagle,
"Once billed as 'Your Hometown Parade,' the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade dates back to 1824, when the procession consisted of Revolutionary War veterans and politicians riding in horse-drawn carriages. Today's modern parade has floats, balloons and marching bands, but still retains the small-town, patriotic flavor of its roots."
Floats, balloons and marching bands = good. Crucifixes = bad.