Or maybe it’s just the horn section.
As a child, nothing signaled the true start of summer like the 4th of July parade, fair and rodeo. Today we tackle the big issues like freedom and all that entails, but back then it was about marching bands, silver-saddled horses, and cotton candy, and when the flag went by we stood proudly never questioning that America was everything it was hyped to be.
After the parade, we’d drive to the fairgrounds and watch cowboys ride, rope and wrangle, with nary a thought about animal welfare as we licked melting blue snow cones in the hot, dusty stands. Back then I rooted for the cowboy. Today, I root for the bronc.
At 25-cents-a-ride, a month's worth of allowance bought us hours of thrills on the Tilt-A-Whirl, the Bullet, and the Hammer. Throw a ping-pong ball into a goldfish bowl and win a fish for just 10 cents. Knock a stack of bottles over with a baseball for a nickle and a stuffed animal could be yours.
And the food – hotdogs, sodas, freshly-made taffy – yours for pennies, because pennies were actually worth something, and belly aches signaled a good time had been had by all.
The powerful beat of a marching band awakens emotions that have me longing for my childhood belief in the endless promise of summer and the endless promise of America and, for those few moments, I allow myself to revisit that time. Happy 4th of July.
Visit my friend and wonderful writer, Michael Whiteman-Jones, for his outstanding piece on this holiday.