Commentary by Bill Buchanan
Attend just one Ojai Independence Day parade, and you’ll know why people put their chairs out a week in advance. What a great parade and what a marvelous day.
I found a great place to view the parade, right in front of Ojai Village Pharmacy. I was shielded from the sun by the Arcade, and even caught a gentle breeze blowing through now and again. Simply put, it was a sensory delight.
People smiled and spoke as they made their way to their vantage points. The mood was friendly, courteous and light-hearted. I saw several people I knew, and one gracious lady, Rae (forgive me if the spelling is incorrect) stopped to introduce herself to me. I guess she recognized my photo from the newspaper; it may have been from our Independence Day parade supplement. Yes, that is my picture Photoshopped onto one of the drummers on the front cover. Not only did I not know that was coming, no one told me after the fact. The staff wanted to see if I would catch it.
I did. As I looked through the paper Friday morning, and glanced at the cover of the parade section, something seemed amiss. I looked down, and there I was, in Revolutionary War garb banging a drum. I have to admit I thought it was pretty funny. Apparently several others noticed it too, as I have endured some good-natured ribbing.
Red, white and blue was everywhere, and in a variety of creative combinations, including tank tops, shorts, headbands, hats, T-shirts, necklaces, earrings, sun visors, and even flip-flops.
You could not swing a dead cat without hitting a flag. They were everywhere. Children watching the parade held small flags. People wore shirts, dresses, hats, skirts, and all other manner of clothing depicting the flag. Flags adorned jeeps, tractors, antique cars, floats and some vehicles that defy description. Flags were emblazoned upon balloons that floated above highly polished Corvettes. Flags were placed in dog collars, stuck behind ears, and attached to stuffed animals. One small girl crawling on the sidewalk next to me even had a small flag in her mouth — at least until her mother saw her.
Parades like this one are important. Not only do they serve to remind us of our freedom, but also of those who paid a dear price that we may enjoy it. It was heartening to see and hear people wave and applaud the veterans as they rode by. It was also gratifying to see people of different ethnicities, backgrounds and philosophies put aside prejudice and difference of opinion to celebrate a common event. Over the din of the crowd, I heard Spanish and what I believe was Chinese being spoken as two different groups passed by. Members of both groups were holding American flags. I thought about the many immigrants that come to this country desperately seeking the freedom and opportunities that we take for granted. America has many problems and challenges, but you won’t read any stories about a boatload of Americans who drown while trying to get to Cuba, Libya or Venezuela.
A lot of work goes into an event like this, and the parade committee organizers, judges, police, volunteers and participants all deserve a hand for an outstanding job.
Ceremonies like this draw us all a little bit closer, and that’s what America needs. I’m already looking forward to next year.
Maybe I should go ahead and set my chair out now.