Now, Elk Ridge is no Stars Hollow. In fact, Elk Ridge is probably half the size of Stars Hollow and the only things you can do here are golf and go to church.
However, once a year Elk Ridge does throw a weekend of dumb town functions. It used to be the annual 4th of July celebration, but they've since moved it to the weekend before the 4th. It kicks off with a parade on Friday evening, and ends with the carnival at the park the next day. Residents can attend the mayor's dinner or the town breakfast, or even enter a race or sports tournament of some kind.
When we were younger, we usually made a point of going to the carnival so that we could watch the cotton candy machine in motion, play some lame games, and buy lame prizes with our lame reward tokens. It was lots of fun. Tyrel has gotten lots of whoopie cushions over the years, and the rest of us have gotten a variety of sunglasses, bouncy balls, and other cheap trinkets. In fact, I still have my lucky rabbit's foot.
So we took advantage of the carnival, but we never went to the parade. Never once, in the 19 years of living in this charming town, have we (except Tyrel, of course) gone to the parade, even though it is just a block from our house. Sometimes we would watch from our yard, but there was never much to see. And my last year of delivering pizza I ended up in the tail end of the parade because someone was mean enough to order pizza and request that we deliver it to their house, which was right smack in the middle of the crowd of people.
But this year, we went to the parade and I was quite excited about it. I wish I had taken pictures so that I could paint the picture more vividly, but I guess you'll just have to do with my bullet-point list of descriptions. So, some of my favorite parts about this awesome parade:
- The parade was all of 5 blocks long and took a mere 20 minutes at most.
- There were no parking headaches because there were not enough people to cause parking headaches. Most of us either walked or, those who came from like a quarter of a mile away, drove and parked in someone's driveway or, um, yard.
- There were no annoying "you can't park or sit here" signs. We all just stood where we pleased. In fact, me, Kimberly, and my mom stood in the middle of the road (not the parade road) and nobody thought anything of it.
- I had almost forgotten that parades mean candy. Nobody in Elk Ridge has sued anybody for hitting their precious child in the head with a tootsie roll, so the parade participants were allowed to throw out candy without getting arrested. And it wasn't all lame parade candy—the parade was so short that they didn't have to worry about merchandise melting and stuff, so they were throwing out legitimate prizes like toys, cold water, popsicles, and, wait for it . . . chocolate. It was pretty awesome.
- The adorable little boy next to us had a grocery bag strapped to his chest.
- We actually had a drumline with like 6 people in it! I tell you, the Elk Ridge parade is entering the ranks of actual parade-hood.
- The firetruck didn't deafen us all. And, the guy driving it stopped half way through so that his grandkids could pile in and ride the last couple of blocks with him.
- There are no requirements to be in this parade. In fact, to a lot of people I think it's just a way to show off how cute their kids (or grandkids) are. One of my favorite "floats" was a makeshift train, lead by Brother Shelley, in which 7 or 8 grandkids each had their own little "car." Half the people decided to join at the last minute because their kids had a sudden desire to walk down Park Drive in front of a few spectators.
- The Miss Payson royalty didn't get a real float—they had to stand in somebody's boat. And one of the girls was wearing a t-shirt under her dress.
- Then there were the traditional people driving around in their golf carts, bikes, and, in Tyrel's case, go-carts.
- And when it was all done, we walked back to our house with a bunch of neighbor kids who were still happy and not stricken by heatstroke or boredom or something.
And that's how you do a parade people—short, sweet, and intimate. No police monitoring, no shutting down the town for a half a day, no reserving seats. Just show up 5 minutes before with a couple hundred people and say hi to the people you haven't seen for a few years. Everybody wins.