Being in a Parade

On Sunday, I was in Cambridge, walking two miles in the 17th annual Honk parade, costumed as a methane molecule. The Honk parade celebrates all things activist, this year accompanied by twenty bands. The weather was glorious, the route from Davis Square to Harvard Square packed with people of all ages, all happy, celebratory, and appreciating our antics.

Amanda and me, Honk parade 2022

As an adult, I’ve been in other parades, participating with my Mass-350 climate activist node, including last winter as a reindeer in Gloucester. This time unexpectedly brought back crisp memories of the 1960’s when, as a teenager, I marched in many parades as a member of St. Mary’s Cardinals Drum and Bugle Corps, carrying a flag in the color guard. The overriding emotion experienced in both periods, teens and seventies, was joy. Let me go back to my teens . . .

When I joined the Cardinals, actually, tried out for the color guard, I had no idea what they were or what was involved. It was simply a new activity and I was up for an adventure. The first time that we were in the school basement, putting on our uniforms, then walking out into the sunshine, I was bedazzled by the sunlight shining on the gold sashes we wore. We had been transformed by the maroon and gold uniforms into something magical, something other-worldly and I loved it!

When we then assembled and marched onto the street to find our place in the parade, I instantly stood taller, prouder. All of the tactics we had learned during hours of indoor practice clicked into place, as we marched, in synch, to the music of the drums and horns. Then, when we marched through crowds of familiar people to excited applause, WOW, I did love that so much.

During the three years of that drum corps experience, I loved every minute, the repetition, the minute corrections to synchronize our bodies with each other’s, the cold days and the hot, sweltering under the sun, I loved it all, including every parade wearing the mid-calf white leather boots that I polished before each performance. There were also white cotton gloves, one more part that had to match everyone else’s. I never tired of it, never got over the thrill of marching down the middle of the street, loving the cheers of the watching crowd.

Last Sunday, marching in the Honk parade, these memories returned to me seemingly multiplied by the six decades that have passed in between. My body’s capabilities have diminished during those decades, but not my ability to revel in the excitement of the parade and of my part in it. In fact, not being certain that I would be able to march the two miles, I had exit strategies in place, which, fortunately, I did not need.

I may not have danced as much as my sister methane molecules, but I didn’t stop smiling. I especially love the grinning children along the side, eyes wide at seeing our strange, fat, orange suits. I often approached them, to their delight, while I said, “All of this is for you, you know, just for you!” Their parents confirmed this, acknowledging that our ongoing climate protests are not for our benefit, but for the children who will inherit this world.

Copyright © 2022

Published by cyrein

Quaker, adventurer, wife, mom, sister, friend, special ed teacher, learner

8 thoughts on “Being in a Parade

  1. Carole, The first time I experienced that feeling was singing in a women’s choir. Week after week we met, worked, honed harmonies, talked too much. It was fun. However, the first time we sang, on risers, for an audience was revelatory. The energy we ‘sisters’ shared was greater than any small combination of us could make. We rose to the challenge and beautiful music emerged. As with the climate, some things you just can’t do yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like so much fun, good for you! I’m a little envious, wish I could have seen you all. I cannot remember when I was last in Harvard Square. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

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