Middlebury has a Memorial Day parade, and it’s one of my favorite things of the year. Not because it’s a big and impressive parade, but, in fact, because it’s the opposite. We have the high school band, the middle school band and the grammar school band. We have several local fire trucks and Miss Vermont Teen. The grocery store, the hospital and the bank have people marching in the parade. The big highlight (for me, anyway) is Bernie Sanders, walking along with his shirt sleeves rolled up and without a sign, because nobody needs to be told who he is. Basically, anyone who puts a balloon on their car can get in. It’s the smallest small-town thing I can think of, and I love it, especially this year.
On Monday, for the second time, John “marched” in the parade with his Little League team and the other teams from Middlebury and the neighboring towns. Matt and I waited for him to pass by and throw us a piece of candy, and then (because we needed to pick him up at the end of the parade, not because we were trying to stalk him) we followed his route from the sidewalk as he continued. From there, we could hear lots of friends call out to him, “Hi John!” “John!” And he waved and threw them some candy as well. (Candy is big in Vermont parades.) He saw some coaches, teachers, friends of his, friends of ours.
I think it’s so sweet and fun that there are all these people around — people who know John and are cheering him on. In this case, they’re literally cheering him on, but I like to think that they’re there for him in spirit even when it’s not a parade day. John takes it completely for granted. This is his town. He’s a part of the community in his way, and seeing people he knows is not unusual or unexpected to him.
There are things you give up in a small town, for sure. But there’s much to be said for being surrounded by friends on your way down the street.