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The Last Windrow: Everybody loves a parade

2014 Pine River Summerfest parade entry. Echo Journal file photo.

The aroma of ether drifted across the parade grounds that December night so long ago. It smelled of danger.

This is the time of year that parades stride across the land. It seems like every community has a parade of some sort during the summer months and even more months that occupy their calendars. We are having such a parade this week in our small community. It is called the Summerfest Parade.

Parades are animals of their own making. No one can actually tell you how a small community parade will turn out. Will there be many floats? Which color guards will show up? How many fire engines can sound their sirens to give the crowd the signal that the parade has actually started?

Many questions to be answered.

Our parade has been going on since 1978 after taking a sabbatical for a number of years. It seems that the original parade committee succumbed to total exhaustion and dealt the parade of the past the fatal blow and it was discontinued. But, in 1978 it was revived by those who knew no better and it still exists today.

I'd say that's a pretty good run!

Over the years our parade has seen motorcycle groups, snare drum ensembles, horse tricks, golf cart exhibitions, Shriner floats and one year we actually had a float named "Alice's Restaurant" that featured a bunch of gangsters and their "mols." It was a real hit! Nothing like firing a sub-machine gun on Main Street to draw attention!

This is an election year, so no doubt we'll have a number of politicians vying for a vote. More power to them! They'll no doubt hear jeers and cheers depending on what party they are representing, but so be it.

Over the years I've seen runaway horse-drawn fire engines, tractors that wouldn't start, Model A's that overheated, queen floats void of a queen, grand marshals' cars with the name spelled wrong, and one time a guy tried to get into the parade chastising Jane Fonda. Who would have guessed?

The parade at the start of this column was held at Christmas time when the temperatures hovered around 20 below zero. A guy stepped forward from the forming crew holding a can of ether.

"I can give that generator a squirt and I'd bet it will start," he said with his breath hovering over his hatted head.

With that he gave the can a spray into the carburetor while clenching a lit pipe between his teeth. I held my breath. Either he was going to blow up or the generator was going to start up.

The generator started, much to my relief!

So it is with parades. You never know if you're going to land in the tree branches or the thing will make it to the end with no fatalities. We always hope for the best!

See you next time. Okay?