My vote for the nation’s most charming Independence Day parade goes to Camp Sherman’s 2005 bike trail event. This small central Oregon town is full of zany characters and beautiful scenery, both of which were on full display yesterday.
Laurel and I were riding our bicycles back to our cabin after attending the annual meeting of the Metolius River Forest Homeowners Association. Near the Lake Creek Lodge we encountered some paraders heading to the Community Hall that we had just left. They yelled, “Come join us!” We did, not wanting to pass up a parade.
When we got to the Hall this woman stressed that the parade was completely spontaneous, notwithstanding the evident care with which many of the participants had festooned themselves and their bicycles. She explained that plans for an official street parade had fallen through because of bureaucratic nit-picking, such as requiring a permit and what-not, so the Camp Shermanites decided to plan an unplanned parade on the bike trail.
Lo and behold, lots of people just happened to show up at the same time on July 2—red, white, and blued—kazoos in hand, ready to “sing” (using that term in its most generous sense) “You’re a Grand Old Flag” at the parade staging area. An award for creativity goes to this woman’s use of blue Superman trunks as part of her patriotic outfit.
With a certain lack of discipline befitting the spontaneous, unplanned nature of the parade (a feature of the event that the unorganized organizers kept speaking loudly about, apparently in case a county official was lurking in the woods), we headed out—the only stated rule being “Keep on the bike trail, not the road.”
Not surprisingly, the paraders vastly outnumbered the onlookers. Like, several dozen to two. But these walkers obviously appreciated the surprise of encountering an Independence Day parade on the Camp Sherman bike trail.
If any one needed proof that the parade was unplanned, they only needed to observe the smiling confusion that resulted from the parade leaders heading onto a narrow single-track trail that even Laurel and I, Camp Sherman part-timers that we are, knew couldn’t be traversed by wagon-hauling bicycles. Quickly recognizing this, the free-floating parade managed to turn around and get back on the wider main bike path.
Reaching the Camp Sherman store, Laurel watched the paraders disband. Not knowing about the parade beforehand (it was spontaneous, remember), we were woefully underdressed for the red, white, and blue occasion. Next year we’ll be prepared.
Though the parade was unplanned, somehow it managed to reach the store shortly before 5:00 pm, just when the Camp Sherman Independence Day barbeque and music festivities were scheduled to begin. Since the menu didn’t feature much in the way of vegetarian food, we rode back to our cabin, had some snacks, and then walked back to the store with the family pet about an hour and a half later.
May every day be a Camp Sherman day for you, wherever you live, filled with a sense of community, quirkiness, and conviviality.
Happy Fourth of July. Be Independent.