There are few events in which the whole town will show up for. But when one happens, it is well worth the while to go.
A few days ago Sheridan, Michigan, a small rural town in the lower peninsula, had a Memorial Day parade.
Being from the small town farther south, I didn't know about the parade until I set out on a day trip with my daughter. To get to our destination we had to go through Sheridan. As we approached the city we found "road closed" signs.
At first I was bothered at the inconvenience. Following detour signs always leaves me wondering if the person setting up the signs really wanted to play a joke on unsuspecting travelers. Seriously, when the detour lasts more than a few minutes, I wonder if I will every find the way to where I'm going.
I turned the corner at the first detour sign and saw the gathering place for a parade. What a treat!
Men, women, and children pushing strollers, pulling wagons, and carrying packs hustled toward Main Street. Not a single open parking spot could be found. Front yards became the new parking lots, and alleys blocked. No fee charged, of course.
To maneuver through the crowded side streets, the car couldn't exceed ten miles per hour. I felt like a participant in a pre parade ceremony. A farmer's tractor passed to my right. The two front wheels wobbled, in need of repair. Putting along behind the tractor was the sheriff. He rubbed his forehead, probably hoping he could follow something else, like the high school marching band.
In the corner parking lot, overgrown with grass, six horses mounted by young riders pranced in the open space. To the right, young families stepped out of their homes and led their troops across the street to find the perfect viewing spot.
When the whole town shows up for a parade there is no use in trying to go to a business, like a grocery store for a drink or sandwich. Chairs are wedged together, those standing fill in any open space. Inventive ways are found to add chairs, like setting them on a piece of roof outside a window, or precariously placed on steps. There is not one inch left to maneuver.
There are venders, though. Ready to sell elephant ears, popcorn, juice, soda, jewelry, crafts, clothes, glow sticks. My favorite are the lemonade stands manned by ten-year-olds with "we're going to be rich" determination on their faces.
Driving north to the next small town I was disappointed to see it empty. Not one person on the street, not one vehicle.
And then I figured it out.
The people from this town went to the parade in Sheridan!
I love small town parades. They may not have the huge floats, the flashy, glimmer and sparkly extras, the bleachers, TV coverage, etc...but they have small town community. And that is exciting, too.
Do you remember enjoying a T ball game more than a pro baseball game? Or an elementary school band concert more than a symphony orchestra?