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Sunday, July 5, 2009

July 4th Parade: Whatever happened to the patriotism?

Several photos from the 2007 July 4 Parade.

Plainfield should be commended for pulling off a July 4th Parade (the 86th) at all in these challenging times.

The papers have been full of stories for weeks of towns cancelling fireworks and curtailing other Independence Day activities, so I was relieved when Plainfield found a way forward by canceling a concert and having the fireworks display on Thursday to cut out overtime expenses.

Throngs lined Front Street by 10 AM, the parade's scheduled step-off time, with many pitching their lawn chairs on the shady side of the street and others with beach umbrellas on the sunny side. The mood was festive and folks called out to friends and neighbors as they strolled up and down, people-watching or jockeying for a better view.

As I walked from Park Avenue to Roosevelt and back again, waiting for the parade to get under way, it struck me that there were no flags at all to be seen, and that seemed odd.

When the parade finally got under way -- the first float, honoring veterans, hit the review stand at 11:10 AM -- I still saw no flags. Finally, the Freeholder contingent approached and Plainfield's Rayland Van Blake and his colleagues were handing out tiny flags to the kids along the route. These are the only ones I saw except for a second floor window near the Sleepy Hollow Luncheonette where one was draped from the sill.

The parade was strangely turned inward upon Plainfield -- many religious organizations, youth, social and sports clubs as well as the Fire Division.

But no marching bands -- even Plainfield High School's. And the Board of Ed, which marched prominently with Dr. Gallon last year, rode on a flatbed this year. The PHS Football team, which wowed the crowds one year by carrying an enormous American flag aloft by holding it overhead, was nowhere to be seen.

And no one from the other towns that have marched in the parade all these 86 years.

No food vendors, no ballon vendors, it was an odd sight.

But there were several bright spots -- a new Hispanic contingent, two youth soccer groups (including a Hispanic youth league), the Plainfield-based New Jersey Wolves football team, and a throbbing Caribbean beat accompanying the BACO-NJ float and marchers.

Congratulations to Plainfield for making it through this difficult year, and hopes that next year will be a step upward -- perhaps even with some patriotism restored.

Patriotism, after all, is not budget-sensitive, last I knew.

-- Dan Damon

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BoomerChef said...

Unfortunately, "flag waving" got a bad name during the Viet Nam war, and Bush's Iraq folly didn't help. I am proud to be an American and fly our flag - but with a little less enthusiasm as I've become aware of our follies abroad, to say nothing of the smorgasbord of greed that took us into the current depression. Proud? Yes. Without qualifications? No.

Anonymous said...

Dan - My husband who is the Union County Commander for the American Legion was apart of the veterans float and I must beg to differ because the American flag was prominently displayed on the front of the float along with the American Legion flag.

Dan said...

To 12:41 PM --

This is true, as I saw when I got a chance to look at the pix I took. There were also a few other flags and I will point this out tomorrow, but overall there was a lack of patriotic focus -- there did not seem to be any patriotic theme, and if you were there and saw the crowd, the only flags they seemed to have were the tiny ones the Freeholders gave. Contrast that with the pictures of the 2007 crowd from the post above. Thanks for the correction and Check back tomorrow.