For a decade now we have all come to enjoy what has become a tradition -- the 4th of July parade in our small town of Amherst, Massachusetts.
Over the years, we have gathered with neighbors, friends, and even families of my doctoral students, who come from many different countries to celebrate Independence Day, which would begin with the parade from Amherst College to UMass Amherst at around 3PM.
This year, because of "funding woes," as reported on masslive.com, there will be no parade, which we have enjoyed immensely -- from the bagpipers, to the women doing something like square dancing on a moving truck, to the veterans, police and fire trucks from different communities, and even dancing horses. There were never many floats but who would not enjoy candy thrown out for the children and, sometimes, even apples distributed by Atkins Farms.
The parade marked a time when we came out as a community and one of my favorite comments was from a mother of one of my students, who had just received his PhD, Dr. Patrick Qiang, and his wife had borne a son the day after his graduation from UMass Amherst. The "grandma" had traveled from China to help take care of the infant, who had been born in May, 2009. They all joined us for the 4th of July parade that year in Amherst, and, despite the blaring horns and sirens, the baby slept through it all. The grandma said that the police in the US, that she saw marching, were so much handsomer than those in China!
At least we have the memories of previous parades and you can see photos of them from last year here, from 2010 here, and from 2009 here.
Amherst somehow managed to mark its 250th anniversary with a parade, also back in 2009, although it rained on that parade.
Our neighboring town of Hadley, Massachusetts put on a spectacular 350th anniversary parade in 2009 and photos can be viewed here.
Let's hope that the forecast does not knock out the fireworks tonight in our area!