Small Town Americana

MI Parade 2_1154acsNothing says the Fourth of July more than a small town parade. And nobody does it better than the small Western Michigan town of Ludington. Everybody turns out to celebrate the country’s birthday. One parade participant estimated the crowd at 30,000, quite a feat for a town of 8,000.

People start lining up chairs at dawn. When the show gets under way at 2 in the afternoon, spectators are packed three and four deep on the sidewalks for the entire one mile route.

MI Parade 1 Audience_1714aMax’s owners cheerfully waved me to an adjacent open spot on the curb when they saw my camera. Front row seat! Everybody’s genuinely friendly in Michigan.

MI Parade 2_1186aThe parade started with a bang, courtesy of the Civil War re-enactors and their cannon.

Youngsters  know to be prepared for the concussion when the cannon goes BOOM!

MI Parade 2_1260aAlso making noise was the Ludington High School Band.

MI Parade 2_1526acs copyThe Harvest Festival Queen, from neighboring Scottville, waves to the crowd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MI Parade 1 Audience_1575acs4

Not every beauty was participating in the parade. A few were watching it, and hoping for candy.

MI Parade 1 Audience_1630a

Future Miss Ludington.

MI Parade 2_1542acsThere are certain requirements for any parade. Like floats…

MI Parade 2_1214aThe local contingent of fire engines…

MI Parade 2_1664aMI Parade 2_1633acsA long line of classic cars…

MI Parade 2_1703aAnd in farm country, tractors.

MI Parade 2_1712aAlso marching in the parade were gymnastics and dance groups, the Rotary Club’s Briefcase Brigade, Smokey Bear, a young fife and drum unit, and a string band that had me wondering at first how the Mummers got here from Philadelphia.

The 4-H Club and Mason County Sherriff’s Office each brought their equestrian units, with the obligatory clean-up crews, who got big cheers from the crowd.

This entire 2-hour spectacle was just the warm-up act for the main attraction…

MI Parade 9 Scottville Clown Band_1744acsThe World Famous Scottville Clown Band!

MI Parade 9 Scottville Clown Band_1757acsEveryone in Michigan knows the Scottville Clown Band. They’ve been around since 1903, after all.

For those who aren’t familiar with them, I have no idea how to describe them and do them justice.

Philadelphians might look at it this way: Take a really good brass band, throw them in a vat with the wenches and clowns of a Mummers Comic Club, stir it up, and what you’ve got is the Scottville Clown Band.

MI Parade 9 Scottville Clown Band_1755aRowdy, bawdy, and hilarious, these guys are also very talented musicians. They come from all over to perform many times over the course of a year. They also sponsor music and performing arts scholarships and fund a band shell in Scottville.

MI Parade 9 Scottville Clown Band_1816acsMostly they just make people happy.

MI Parade 9 Scottville Clown Band_1784aLike drum lines everywhere, Scottville’s drummers are mild-mannered and well-disciplined.

MI Parade 9 Scottville Clown Band_1813acs Oval 3Of course there has to be a tuba-player in a tutu.

MI Parade 2_1601acsTime to wave good-bye to this year’s Fourth of July parade.

Stroll down to the beach, maybe enjoy an adult beverage or two, and rest up. The party continues with fireworks tonight!MI Parade 2_1317a

 

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