Kindness – the one thing that should be handed out at paradesAug 01, 2022 09:18AM ● By Bryan Gray
Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of parades. Combine steaming temperatures, long stretches of entrants comprised of 70% for-profit dance studios, trucks advertising check-cashing services, and sniveling politicians waving from flag-decked convertibles, I find most parades as welcoming as a mosquito infestation.
Making it worse, most community-sponsored parades are devoid of actual floats due to the lack of volunteer workers and the hefty price tag. (It is not unusual for “float making firms” to charge $15,000 and up for their services.) Some smaller rural communities have retained the civic pride aspect complete with marching bands and Little Miss Rodeo contestants, and the Days of ’47 parade has a bevy of floats, but too many parades have become a depository for cheap candy and popsicle giveaways.
Most importantly parades are becoming increasingly dangerous. Many parade organizers have warned of aggressive behavior by children and their parents as they retrieve candy thrown from parade entries.
This summer I saw it firsthand by participating in several city parades. Children as young as two and three were being encouraged by their parents to run into the street, sometimes weaving in between moving vehicles, all in the pursuit of a piece of taffy or a cheap toy. My wife instructed one youngster to stay behind a parade line to receive candy, and she was reprimanded by a parent. Apparently, it’s a “parental right” to allow children to run in front of moving vehicles.
On one float, volunteers were handing out strings of colored beads. An adult whose child was draped with a white bead necklace complained that the child should instead get a different color. Instead of a “Thanks,” there was a “C’mon, give me a red one!”
Then there was the crush of young men who attempted to steal a handful of the necklaces, and the 40-something who told a parade participant she was a…. well, you can imagine the two-word expletive.
One parade organizer admitted that the events had changed in recent years. “More and more people are attending with a chip on their shoulder,” she told me. “There is an expectation for freebies and candy instead of enjoying the entrants and paying tribute to people being honored in the community.”
One answer is to prohibit entrants from passing out or throwing candy, eliminating the desire for children to dart into the streets. But the best solution is a different mindset. A parade is a salute to the community showcasing the best of what the area offers. Focus on the veterans, not the trucks with divisive political messages. Enjoy the horses – and appreciate that someone else has the shovel to clean up their mess. Clap to the high school and junior high bands and cheer the parade royalty.
Oh, and one other thing. Just be kind and thoughtful. λ