Monday, July 11, 2005

I never quite know what to expect when I stick my head out my door these days. Last Wednesday, there were these percussive noises just after sunset - Bellefonte had apparently decided to hold their 4th of July fireworks on the sixth. It was actually a quite extensive display, not even counting whatever had gone on before I came wandering out to the street. On Saturday, I heard marching bands playing, which isn't as odd as it sounds, as a local band used to practice in the recess yard of the elementary school over on Linn Street, just across the alley from my bedroom window.

But no, it wasn't anybody's practice.

It was the Logan Fire Company's 4th of July parade, down Allegheny Street. (On the Ninth, but these days it seems that the 4th of July covers the better part of a week. Perhaps when I'm old and greyer, it'll have conquered the whole damned month of July.)

I've never seen so many of those newfangled canvas folding chairs in one place. The parents had all equipped their kids with plastic bags, which confused me a bit until I noticed that every single vehicle and politician that rolled by had a big bag of penny candy, the contents of which they were using to pelt the crowds. The kids were scrambling all over the place, and made me more than a little anxious that one of the rug-rats would go under a tire in their enthusiasm.

It wasn't just Logan, or indeed, just the fire companies in town on parade. They had invited companies from throughout this section of the "T", from Reynoldsville to Beech Creek, and including some towns I couldn't mentally place on a map, like Wingate. Some of the smaller communities, like Port Matilda, had glorified pickup trucks groaning under the weight of a full hose-and-pump apparatus. I ended up being kind of curious how effective those tiny fire trucks *were* in fighting fires. I can see how there'd be worry in the more distant communities about waiting for the big-community engine companies while their houses burn to the ground... Speaking of which, it occurred to me that with every fire company in a forty-mile radius on parade in Bellefonte, it would've been a hell of a time for something to catch fire out in the boonies. Oh, well.

The politicians consisted of the three commissioners, and the Democratic and Republican candidates for District Attorney. The Republicans were all in cars, while the Democrats were walking alongside their cars, playing out that whole tribune-of-the-people thing. Conklin was being pretty cool, but Arnold was a tad desperate-looking. The guy on the microphone and speaker at the band-stand made excuses for Madeira being in his car, claiming that he had hurt his knee in a motorcycle accident. The two Republican commissioners got no explanation as to why they were on their duffs and not out glad-handing. They had apparently forgotten to bring their top-hats and canes, or perhaps the hats had blown off in the non-existent breeze.

Perhaps they should have had a mother or two trailing their cars to catch 'em, like the women flanking the various majorette companies, arms full of discarded or dropped batons. There were almost as many of these companies as there were fire companies on parade. There was even a contingent from University Park - I didn't think any families *lived* in University Park - has State College's school district re-named itself without my noticing?

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