Like the song says, “I love a parade.”
Actually, with the exception of the little parade we have each July 2nd in my adopted Montana hometown, I don’t much care for them at all. And even our little parade is growing less enjoyable as there seem to be fewer kids on bicycles decorated with red-white-and-blue crepe paper and more commercial displays from businesses, some of which don’t seem to have any local connection to the community.
There was a time when everybody with a horse or a farm implement proudly paraded down Livingston’s Main Street without much fanfare, merely smiling and waving imperiously from their chosen seats—saddle or tractor. Bagpipers from around the state led and followed, their kilts lending authenticity to the drone of their pipes. The Shriners rode their tiny cycles in little circles while the members of other fraternal organizations tossed candies to the children at the curbsides. The American Legion and the V.F.W. were represented with uniformed color guards, their numbers noticeably fading with each passing year, their members growing longer in the tooth.
It all made for a pleasant afternoon—one that was respectful of our nation’s history and traditions.
Today there are precision riding teams with uniformed riders, and the only tractors or combines on the route seem to be brand new and advertised as available for purchase at the implements store on Park Street. Things change.
But the Shriners and the bagpipers and the Rotarians and Lions, the Scouts and the 4-H still come out each July 2nd to remind us that what we have as a community is worth hanging onto, that our small-town identity is far more than something seen as precious by the visiting out-of-towners who flood the area at that time of year, and to remind us that, for the most part, our shared values are worth honoring. The politicians appear as well, their minions delivering paper handouts along the sidelines intending to remind us how worthy they are of our votes. For the most part, I’ve observed, we’re polite and accepting.
Since 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City has been a spectacle designed to usher in the Christmas buying season, all to the benefit of Macy’s, which only makes sense since Macy’s foots most of the bill. The parade was designed as a commercial endeavor with no sense of charity or community.
The Rose Parade, which made its debut on Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard in 1890, was a commercial endeavor without a single sponsor since its inception. Everybody pays. It was created to help celebrate the Rose Bowl, a collegiate football championship game once held between the top finishers of the Big-Ten and Pac-10 conferences. I’m not sure who plays in the Rose Bowl game anymore. But the New Year’s Day parade, unless January 1 happens to fall on a Sunday, is the nation’s most prominent parade spectacle.
Clearly, the standing of the Tournament of Roses parade was placed briefly in jeopardy by the promise of President Trump’s salute to himself with a proposed $12 million Veterans Day spectacle along Pennsylvania Avenue, the cost of which would be offset by the president’s canceling peacetime war drills with South Korea.
In the grand tradition of such dictator states as North Korea, China and Russia, Trump would take his place on the dishonor roll with a rollicking show of our military strength, with which most of the world is already quite familiar. His five service deferments notwithstanding, he would stand proudly on the review stand as Commander-in-Chief, no doubt costumed for the day in a uniform lavishly decorated with campaign ribbons and medals.
That is unless he opts to name himself Grand Marshal and ride on the back of a convertible Chevy with Sarah Huckleberry Sanders.
But then things along the parade route went south when an unnamed Pentagon official leaked some fake news to the fake media that the parade’s estimated costs had ballooned to $92 million. It turns out that the news wasn’t fake and that it was the mayor of Washington, D.C., who would be blamed for raining on Trump’s parade. The estimated bill for the city’s services—including what seemed to be an extraordinary amount for bottled water—would be about $22 million, which would have increased the cost of the parade to around $34 million.
That left $58 million in parade costs unaccounted for. The parade plans were scrapped, with Trump and unnamed Pentagon officials saying that a target date was being set for next year.
Nobody is more disappointed than Moses Lester, an underling in Trump’s “kitchen cabinet” whose job title is “guy in charge of parades and warrantless spectacles.”
“I’m also the guy in the bunny costume at the Easter egg hunt,” Moe said from a windowless basement office in the West Wing of the White House.
“You must be disappointed,” I suggested.
“In a way,” he said, adding that he sensed the parade’s costs would become prohibitive. “Do you have any idea how much it costs to fly a tank to Washington, let alone dozens of them?”
I had to admit that I didn’t.
“I got shot down pretty early,” Moe said, “but I suggested corporate sponsorships from the Day One.”
Moe continued to say that the less the Tasteless Trump Tribute (his words) would cost the American taxpayer, the more palatable it would be to the public. But, he added, Trump argued that the tax cuts afforded the richest of the rich should not be taken back to pay for the parade.
“It’s the public’s duty to foot the bill to honor me,” he allegedly said.
Moe said that he was proud of his plan and disappointed that little of it was even seen by the powers-that-be.
Hobby Lobby was going to be the official sponsor and would have naming rights. Macy’s was on board for the donation of giant, helium-filled balloons of Trump, his children, wives and cabinet members. Papa John’s would cater the whole shebang.
“I had Kanye West hosting and headlining the show at the end of the parade route,” Moe said. “Kid Rock and Ted Nugent were on board as well.”
Fox News was reportedly in negotiations to be the sole broadcasting outlet and retain film rights for the movie Dinesh D’Souza would be making.
“It sounds like you had a pretty good handle on things,” I suggested.
“I think so,” he said. “I even had a commitment from the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. Have you heard their version of ‘I Love a Parade’? Killer, absolute killer.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“Well,” he began, “the midterm elections are just five days before Veterans Day. If the Republicans lose the House, the Senate or both, the President probably wouldn’t be a very happy camper at his own party.”
“But what if the Republicans retain control?”
I heard the click of Moe hanging up on me.
Just-In-Case Crow Pie
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup peas
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 cup boiled potato, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2/3 cup milk
1 tbs corn starch
2 frozen pie crusts
Prepare crows as you would any other game bird.
Boil prepared crows for 4-5 hours. Let cool.
Remove meat from bones and chop.
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix cornstarch with milk, and stir until smooth.
Add carrots, peas, celery, and onion.
Add chopped crow meat and mix well.
Pour crow mixture into pie shell.
Cover with second pie shell.
Seal edges and pierce to allow steam to escape.
Bake for one hour, or until crust is golden brown.
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska