What a day of patriotism! So much red, white and blue! Such an overt demonstration of national pride!
The 4th of July brings out the best in Americans. And, more importantly, they see the best in America.
For many of these people – wheelchair-bound, close to poverty, threatened by the vices of society that tear families apart – there is nothing more sacred than the country which, ironically, seems to have neglected them in their time of need.
So, keeping with the spirit of the day, I chose not to focus on domestic policies of the USA. Instead, it was about celebration, so I went to one of the country’s largest 4th of July parades.
Oh, that star-spangled banner was yet waving o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave in the city of Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco.
Their parade stretches through the city for 3.3 miles (5.3 kilometres). Alongside the floats, the bands and the marchers, I walked the entire length.
There certainly was quite a variety of floats, floating down the streets. The people here joke that half the town is in the parade and other half comes along to watch it.
They didn’t get a particularly big cheer, but the local NRA chapter was represented:
Miss Alameda was there as well, encouraging people to compost… although I wouldn’t thought there was a couple of other more pressing issues to deal with:
Even the local animals took part in the parade:
While their friends came along to support them:
The parade started in the main street of town, with locals setting up foldaway chairs in front of the shops.
But it wound its way through the suburbs as well…
Through the blue-collar streets where the crowds were thin…
Through the posher areas where lawn parties competed with each other for a silent social status…
And through the more densely-populated streets where crowds were the noisiest.
Ultimately, though, a parade like this brings everyone together for a day. Because it’s not about the suburb you live in, it’s not about the city you grew up in, it’s not about how you voted at the last election.
It’s about being united under one flag and feeling as though that gives you a collective security from the burdens of life.
“We gonna get excited about pretty much anything dat comes along this road,” screamed one woman from her kerbside armchair.
That captures the mood of the parade perfectly.