My favorite part of July 4 celebrations aren’t the fireworks, as spectacular as they are. Don’t get me wrong, I love family time and BBQs, but we enjoy those several times a year. What really moves me is the annual Bothell parade.
Bothell, Washington, is a typical American town and its parade is a typical small-town celebration. Lawnchairs begin appearing on Main Street by July 1, securing a great viewing point for local spectators. U.S. flags and red, white, and blue flowers festoon local storefronts. Banners appear with this year’s theme emblazoned. This year’s theme was Red, White and Bothell; a bit cheeky, but that’s true, brash American spirit!
For decades, the parade has started promptly at noon. Well, never quite, but close enough, which is whenever the cannon goes off and the veterans start the march proudly carrying Old Glory to the cheers of the crowds. Other groups soon followed, most of whom tossed candy to the kids.
Between the Northshore softball/baseball All-Star teams, the Mills Music Summer Marchcing Band, the politicans showing off their civic spirit, and the local businesses with badly decorated company trucks (how do you show off your American spirit while advertising your business?), my wife and I noticed that Bothell has lost its homogeny.
There was a time not that long ago when the non-whites in Bothell were the Italians. Today, our parade–like our hometown–has grown up. Yes, the Sons of Norway still have their float, but other cultures are showing off their U.S. pride as well as pride in their origins. It was especially noticeable when the local Sikh community marched past, the most exuberantly joyful group of all. There was no sense they were recruiting (they had no swag to pass out); they simply seemed happy and proud to be Americans.
The Scottish Pipe & Drum Band (I love bagpipes!) and the Mexican Vaqueros (their horses are gorgeous!) are two of my other favorites. A 4th of July parade is nothing without marching bands!
For me, this diversity is what makes America great: our heterogeneity united with our respect for the freedoms we enjoy in this county. Indeed, Bothell is now part of the Great Melting Pot.