Independence Day was upon us again! The fun! The noises! The food! And even better, the PARADE FLOAT! This is the second year my maker's family has helped another family create a float in the Elgin 4th of July Parade. This year the theme of the parade was Toys on Parade, but being dubbed "People That Make Patriotic Floats" they wanted to design a float about toys, but also be partiotic. Abbot asked me what it means to be patriotic, and I wasn't completely sure. But I surmised by day's end, we would know.
As the float builders scurried about putting their thoughts into reality, Abbot and I found these funny wigs and a hat that we had to try on. My maker said those funny wigs were similar to the type of hair and costume we may have seen on July 4, 1776, the day the United States declared its independence from Britain. She said Ben Franklin had a bald head and long hair on the sides. He was a partiot, she told us. The other wig, and the hat, were similar to what George Washington wore, our first American president. We just thought they looked funny, and Abbot gargled for about 20 minutes when Ben's hair got tangled on one of my button eyes. We lounged in the chair and watched them flit about like bees, moving gigantic toys hither and yon so that the float would be a perfect balance of proportion and color. Abbot and I were quite sure we didn't fit into the color scheme, but when we were told by our maker that we would play a vital role on the float we were ecstatic!
Would we get to ride the bike that would spin the gigantic top? Would we get to throw the beach ball around, or sit on top of it? Would we get to wear those funny wigs or wave our flags?
Either way, Abbot and I were thrilled we'd be included, and all the children would see us and hopefully not be frightened. My maker's daughter played Paul Revere, another patriot, who rode the bike that looked like a horse, and warned the crowd, "The beachballs are coming! The beachballs are coming!" And my favorite, "One if by lemonade, two if by sunscreen!" But I didn't really understand why those sentiments were so well received by the crowd. Must be some sort of patriot humor I don't quite understand.
Just before the parade began, Abbot turned to me and pulled on my ear, which I've gotten accustomed to when he wants my attention, and asked me in his telepathic manner, "What do we get to do on the float?" My maker must have heard him because she called out to us and told us to come to the back of the float. There, tied to the giant wagon that became the base of the float, was a smaller wagon just big enough for us! My maker tied us in securely so we would not bounce out. She gave us sparkly garlands and told us to be careful because she would not be able to see us through the whole parade. That kind of scared me, and I think it scared her too, but she had members on the float check on us from time to time. I sat very still for the whole ride even though it was hot, but Abbot, true to form, squirmed like a tied up monster would and longed to run with the children and chase down the candy being strewn from other floats. I made him behave though by reminding him of where we got to go after the parade.
It was so wonderful to relax by a pool after a long morning. Abbot and I cannot get wet, of course, but just feeling the breeze off the cool water made for a very pleasant afternoon. One of my maker's family members had just put a pool into their yard and we were all thankful they let us come swim and spend the afternoon eating and playing cards, of which my maker's family never gets enough.
We arrived at our seats for the band show and fireworks display rather early. Abbot was able to run around with some children, and who knows what else he did, because when he returned to our seats he had broken his sunglasses and had a tummy ache. He wanted to wear his glasses anyway because he said last year the fireworks hurt his eyes. The noises he liked, however, because he said they remind him of the drums in the music our maker likes so much. And speaking of DRUMS.....
Abbot was SO excited about loud noises that he begged our maker to introduce him to the drummer for the DeKalb Municipal Band, Joe, who does such a great job keeping time for the big band ensemble every year. After a little harmless prodding Joe agreed to take a picture with us. He let us hold his fancy drumsticks. Abbot wondered why Joe's drumsticks didn't look like the ones on the Thanksgiving dinner table and was a little disappointed. We thanked him anyway, and as we walked away we thought maybe he wasn't used to seeing monsters in broad daylight.
Abbot kept his glasses with one lens poked out perched on his face the entire fireworks display. He closed one eye and only looked through the one lens with the one open eye, then turned the glasses around to let the other eye see, so both eyes got to see the fireworks equally. It was only fair, he said.
After the wonderful fireworks display my maker carried us back to the car. I realized I did not learn that day what a patriot was. I whispered to my maker, "How will I ever know what a patriot is?" She answered me, "Caruthers, do you love your country?"
"Yes," I said. "It is where you are. It is where my family is. It is where I want to be. Does that mean I love it?"
"I think so, Caruthers," my maker said. "Any citizen who loves his or her country is a patriot in my book. And any citizen who strives to make his or her country a better place to live is a patriot too. Our soldiers and armed men and women who protect us from harm are the ultimate patriots because they love their country enough to die for it. They are the bravest of all. Do you undertsand?"
"I think so," I said sleepily. My ears were ringing from the loud booms. Abbot was asleep in the crook of my maker's other arm. He rarely ponders life. I guess that's one reason I like him so much though.
Happy Independence Day United States of America!