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Alive_July2016

AND THEN I WROTE . . . I Love a Parade—And Fireworks EDWIN COHEN Is there anyone out there in reader land who does not love a parade, especially one with fireworks? Can you resist the music of marching bands, brightly costumed marchers, and skyrockets of every color and design? If so, you have our deepest sympathy (and loosen up). Some parades honor national groups in the U.S., such as Chinese New Year or St. Patrick’s Day. In countries where there is a national or totally predominate religion, parades are held to honor holy days, such as El Dia de los Muertos. In San Francisco, however, three people getting together for lunch can form a “Three People Getting Together for Lunch” parade. The month of July contains three big days for parades: in the U.S. we have our Fourth of July, Independence Day, festivities in virtually every city, town, and hamlet; our neighbors to the north have Canada Day on July 1 (Eh?); and France’s Bastille Day, celebrating the start of the French Revolution, occurs on July 14. While no marching bands or exploding fireballs will accompany this article, here are some experiences I personally have had with unusual, off-beat, and exciting July parades and fireworks: In 1965 while teaching at Downey High School in Southern California, I had somehow discovered an organization that sponsored programs for high school students, taking them to a variety of countries in Europe where they would study the local language during the week and sightsee on weekends. (The programs, including airfare, room and board, and classes for six weeks, cost about $600.00.) Never having been to Europe, I was anxious to give it a try, despite the necessity to recruit eight students to get my trip free. With Spain as my first target, I came up empty. The people who sponsored the program knew of my camping, teaching, and youth experience and told me that if I could recruit four more students for France, they had four kids without chaperones from our area. Success! The eight wonderful youngsters and I flew from Long Beach, California to New York, then to Paris, France, where we spent about five days, including July 14—Bastille Day. We were given “tickets” to the parade. Tickets? The tickets gave us the right to find a place to stand on the sidewalk along the parade route. We ended up being about eight or ten rows from street, standing there for about four hours. Was it worth it? You’re darn tootin’. The parade lasted about two or two-and-a-half hours with marching bands, military groups, firemen, police, school bands, and just about any group you can think of plus fireworks that evening. It was a delight, but the most wonderful part for this Los Angelino (via Sunbury, PA) was the location: PARIS, FRANCE. (Author’s Side Note): The following year I had paid off my 1963 Buick convertible, had a few bucks in savings, and decided to take the summer off. My plan was to drive up to San Francisco to see some friends (one in particular), then go camping in Yellowstone, the US and Canadian Glacier Parks, followed by Jasper and Banff Parks. After the parks I planned to drive to Vancouver, BC, and take a freighter home to L.A. I got as far as Yellowstone when I decided to return to San Francisco. Just before leaving the park on July 14, I noticed that in the Southeastern corner of Idaho lies a small town named “Paris.” The irony was too great to resist. I drove to Paris, explained to the lady at the motel that one year before, to the day, I had been in Paris, France. She was totally unimpressed. Indeed, I am not sure she had even heard of that other Paris. I stayed overnight on July 14, then drove to San Francisco where I proposed to that particular friend. (This August we will cel-


Alive_July2016
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