posts tagged with 'parade'

and the parade

It's been two years since we got to attend a Patriots Day parade, so we were determined to enjoy this one to the fullest—those of us who didn't have more important concerns to take care of, at least. In Leah and Lijah's absence we made sure to invite lots of friends along.

eight or so kids sitting on the curb waiting for the parade

not pictured: parents

I came up with the idea of inviting friends to park at our house and bike up to Lexington for the festivities last year, but in the event rain forced a change of plans. This year the scheme was back bigger and better than even, so we had five families all together at the parade route—six if you count Grandma and Grandpa as distinct from us Bedford Archibalds. Having so many friends to talk to was interesting, since it served to abstract me a little from the direct experience of the parade... in the best of all possible ways. Harvey and Zion were insulated by their friends too, and additionally their focus on ingesting as much parade-grade sugar as possible.

Harvey and Zion slurping up the last of their shared blue raspberry slush

sharing the sugar

The biking part of the trip—with the best part of three families—was lovely; the four kids on their own bikes did a fantastic job, and I had fun hauling a couple more in the blue bike. Having it makes packing for an outing a lot easier. Bring a soccer ball? Why not?!

Zion and a friend in the back of the full blue bike, Zion making a face

filled to capacity with supplies and silliness

We managed the 4.5 mile trip up in about 40 minutes, plenty of time for a relaxing lunch—and a little soccer!—before the parade.

all the bikes, many of the picnicers

Other folks joined us by auto and foot, including some little guys, who weren't sure what to make of all the excitement. But parents knew how to enter into the spirit of it all!

look at their patriotic outfits!

For their part Harvey and Zion are parade pros, and even distracted by friends and food they enjoyed it all to the fullest.

Zion and Harvey waving little US flags

happy Patriots

So that was that—then those of us with bikes went back to our house and kept the party going with beer and Indian food—and mac and cheese for the kids—for another three hours, but that's another story. Let's do it again next year!


Bedford: the Day

the back of Lijah's head as he watches the ladder truck go by

watching the trucks

After counting down the days, we four boys were super excited when the morning of Bedford Day arrived. Which is good, because the excitement of the younger three made Mama's absence—she was out all day running a big mountain race—a little more bearable. So did pancakes.

We were up at the parade route in plenty of time to get a prime spot. As usual the kids all crept steadily forward to improve their chances of grabbing some of the candy thrown by nearly all the units in this particular parade; but this time Harvey and Zion were right up there with them.

Harvey and Zion well away from the curb, standing with the other kids ready to get candy

on the front lines

They were brave in the scramble, too. Don't tell Mama how close Zion got to the wheels of some of those trucks! Even before the parade was over they got to enjoy some of the sweet reward.

Lijah eating a chocolate

Bedford Day spirit

Before the parade we'd scouted out the booth with the cheapest hot dogs ($2 instead of $3 each!) so we knew right where to go when there was nothing more to watch out on the street.

Zion taking a big bite of his hot dog

more substantial fare

Low camera batteries prevented me from getting a shot of the karate demonstration, the highlight of the day for Zion, but when we made our way to the 4H area I remembered my phone in time to capture Lijah's delight.

Lijah in the baby goat pen, pointing at one

his favorite part

Next up was the fire trucks, including the new ladder unit (of which the department is very proud). Here's Zion taking it for a drive.

Zion sitting way up high in the driver's seat of the ladder truck

I don't think he can see over the dashboard

There was also a mobile EMT training facility, with a practice dummy that was oddly fascinating to the kids...

After all the excitement and heat—it was baking in the sun—we were happy to head over to the library to buy some books at the sale and just relax. It's nice to see the whole town out and enjoying themselves; but I think I'm also glad that most people stay home the rest of the time.

Lijah sitting on the little couch in the kids room, lot from behind by the window, playing with toys


Happy Bedford Day!


patriots get going early in Bedford

This morning the boys and I headed up to town to take in Bedford's Patriot's Day observances, which conveniently happen the weekend before Lexington's. The last couple years we weren't ready a week ahead and missed the chance to take in a bonus parade, but this year we were poised and excited and took off up the hill on our bicycles as soon as we heard the drummers start to warm up.

the Concord Minutemen's flag

Minuteman pride

Because we rushed so much we were pretty early, which was great since it let us watch the crowds of reenactors gather on the town green.

lots of reenactors milling around

the pre-parade scene

It was awesome to see so many people dedicated to history and pageantry. The quality of the outfits varied a bit, but the occasional off-the-rack shirt or robber-soled shoes didn't detract a whit from the experience of being surrounded by figures from another age. And some of the folks had everything right.

a bearded reenactor in a red cap


The parade is just the precursor to one of the twin highlights of Bedford's civic culture, the pole-capping (the other, of course, being Bedford Day (2, 3, 4)). Near as I can tell—crowds have kept me from getting a really good view the three years I've been—the Bedford Minutemen put up a Liberty Pole, and some British regulars come and make them take it down. But besides that there are lots of speeches by politicians and local notables, and this year those speeches were long and inaudible enough that we gave up early and headed back to the library for the book sale. So as far as I know the pole stayed up this year.

Never mind, though, the parade alone was well worth the trip out, and inspired us all to ask Mama to make us our own colonial costumes for next year. Although Lijah, come to think of it, was already pretty well-attired for the day: we missed seeing the red cap on top of the pole but we got to look at this one all morning!

Lijah at the parade in his red cap

pretty cute too


this year's Honk!

the boys watching the parade, band in background

leftists on parade

This past Sunday we headed into the urban jungle for another year's edition of the Honk! parade. We got there plenty early—by design, because for the boys the wonderful playground on Cambridge Common is as much of a draw as the music and anarchy. And they made the most of it, playing so independently that I didn't even manage to take a good picture: they were too far away! Of course, the parade was awesome too.

tall bikes in the Honk! parade

typical extravagance

Besides the bands there were puppets, protest groups, adults and kids on stilts, and of course tall bikes. It was everything a parade should be, and totally unlike the Bedford Day parade, which is also everything a parade should be. (That statement could stand to be examined further in another blog post.) Actually, there were a couple commonalities: both parades have a big kid component, and new this year Honk had a unit throwing out candy. Just a bit, but it was enough to cement the boys' understanding that all parades everywhere should give them candy.

After the parade we headed into Harvard Square, where we had lunch with some friends sitting on the thin end of the traffic island splitting the two lanes of Mass Ave in front of Harvard Yard. Car-free streets are great! Of course, while they were car-free the streets were totally and all-encompassingly choked with people, so Leah was quickly overwhelmed; and, truth be told, it was even a little bit much for me. But I wanted to take more music, and so, surprisingly, did Zion. And since he could go on my shoulders he was the only one of us who could actually see the musicians the first couple bands we found.

members of the New Creation Brass Band playing

pizza party

There are a lot of fun and interesting bands involved in the festival, but I wanted to hear some real good music so I was happy to find the New Creation band playing an un-advertized set on the sidewalk. The boys and I were even able to find a spot where we could see, and we happily enjoyed a couple great examples of modern New Orleans brass band music. Leah indulged us and waited patiently. I could have sat there listing for as long as the band kept playing, but let no one say I lack consideration entirely! I also found a back way out of the festival throng so we didn't have to struggle through the crowd again, and a quiet bathroom in a Harvard library (though Zion preferred to pee outside, on the library's bushes), so I'm not totally useless as a provider either.

All in all it was an experience, and we're already looking forward to doing it again next year! Just maybe slightly differently.


Bedford Day 2014

the boys watching a fire truck go by, holding their ears

Bedford Day is loud

Last Saturday was Bedford Day, and the boys were very excited. Since we had a birthday party to go to in the afternoon Mama and Lijah stayed home, but Harvey, Zion, and I were up to town in plenty of time to get a good seat for the parade.

Zion and Harvey sitting on the curb smiling

giddy anticipation

Unlike some other parades, this one doesn't have too many musical units, or any clowns; what it does have is many loud trucks—Hanscom snow plows, DPW loaders, and fire trucks from all the surrounding towns—along with local politicians, martial arts schools, and kids sports leagues. And their all tossing out piles of candy.

a mob of young soccer players in the parade throwing candy, kids scrambling to pick it up


Aside from our parental doubts about how much candy our kids need to have at any one time, this bonanza of sweets has another downside: kids between 9 and 13 or so are driven mad by the bounty and spend the whole parade in a frenzy of accumulation, mostly blocking the view of the adults and little kids sitting obediently on the curb. This year was better, though both because at the start of the parade I spoke sharply to some suspicious-looking youths nearby—they went somewhere else—and because Zion and, especially, Harvey are much better at scrabbling for treats themselves than they were in years past. Here's Zion with some of the booty.

Zion sitting next to a pile of candy

better than Halloween!

After the parade we headed over to the fair, which was packed with an overwhelming number of people. The boys snagged some free balloons and petted the 4H animals, and we ate lunch while watching karate and dance demonstrations. But the highlight of our fair experience was the library book sale. Whether at the main sale in the library our out at the auxiliary booth, all three of us were happy to look at books for quite a while.

Zion and Harvey sitting on the pavement in the book sale booth looking at books

fair reads

And with our lunch from home and all the candy, the only money we spent was five dollars on books. A wonderful and successful day at the fair!

(Now all we have to do is make the leftover candy... disappear.)


festival report 2: Patriots Day

boys and grandparents watching the parade


Hot on the heels of Easter came Patriots Day; that happens sometimes. We took a relaxing morning to let some of the effects of the previous day's chocolate and business to wear off, then headed to Lexington to take in the festivities. Of course, first we had to take in a picnic!

Mama and Zion sitting on the grass surrounded by containers of food

plenty to go around

There was lots of food; the cookie Harvey and Zion split was plenty of food all by itself! (I made them split it on the principle, as I told them at the time, that you should never eat a desert bigger than your face).

Harvey holding half of a big cookie

half a monstosity

After we finished lunch we had plenty of time to make our way to our traditional parade-viewing spot, since we cleverly came early for prime parking opportunities. As we wandered over we met Grandpa Ira, who kindly indulged us in another attempt at a family photo. It took some persuading to get Zion to join us, but he did eventually.

the five Archibalds on a park bench

looking not entirely unhappy to be photographed

We made it to the parade route about 45 minutes before P-Hour, and the boys ran around and played in the bushes for a while until the other Grandpa (and Grandma) showed up, at which point they settled down on the curb to wait.

Harvey, Zion, Grandma, Grandpa, and another Grandpa sitting on the curb waiting for the parade

anticipation and grandparents

The thing about parade photography is, the parade units tend to be the same year after year. I've noticed this before, but it struck me even more this year (it might be because this parade was back to normal after last year's 300th Birthday Spectacular). So I mostly stuck to taking picture of the kids.

Zion watching the parade

enjoying 1

Harvey watching the parade

enjoying 2

Actually, there was one new thing, which Zion enjoyed seeing.

a marcher in a cartoon chicken suit

big chicken

I think it was advertising a daycare, but no matter: it was there! A marching chicken!

Patriots Day can be hot or cold, and this was one of the hot years. The temperature was actually reasonable—I was fine in long trousers and long sleeves all day—but the sun was startlingly strong, and we regretted our lack of sunblock. Luckily I had remembered the hats! But Lijah wasn't happy to permit his to stay on, so for the most part he and Mama retired to the shade.

Leah and LyeLye at a distance, in a scrap of shade

seeking refuge from the sun

But don't worry, they could still see from there! At least, the one of them who can focus her eyes further than three feet away could. But don't worry LyeLye, we'll do it again next year!


happy Patriots Day

an American flag

oh say

Marathon Monday for some, "huh?" for others; but today was Patriots Day for us! We went to a parade. More narrative—and variety of photos—later, but here are some images of us being patriotic.

We all got new little flags.

Zion, in a sun hat, holding a small American flag

having and holding

Harvey carried lots of supplies... most of the way.

Harvey with flag and backpack

marching along

Even LyeLye got in on the action.

Elijah lying in Leah's lap holding an American flag

the littlest patriot

It was a Patriotic time all around.

Harvey, Zion, and Nathan comparing their small flags to a big one

just like the big one


well-behaved again for a holiday

A Bedford minuteman carrying the town flag in the parade

town pride time again

It was Bedford Day today, and we very much enjoyed the festivities. The day started with a family meeting to address certain issues, and since the discussion was well-received we packed up and headed out to the parade. Like last time it was plagued with candy-crazed youths, but once we got a couple pieces ourselves we were able to relax and enjoy the sights.

Harvey sucking on a lollypop as he watches the parade

all is right with the world

Politicians, boy scouts, high school band: all just as you'd expect. This being a liberal Boston suburb, there was also a group of young violinists and a large anti-war group. Alone among that list the violinists failed to throw candy. Of course, not all the candy was appreciated by all the Archibalds.

Zion trying to get tootsie roll out of his mouth

"I can't like it!"

After the parade we headed over the the fair. There were big trucks.

Zion sitting in the bucket of a front-end loader

looking smaller than usual

And rescue equipment.

Harvey in the cab of a fire truck

he can almost reach the pedals

Firemen demonstrated the jaws of life on a poor defenseless car. Harvey enjoyed watching that considerably more than Zion (he wasn't sure if he approved at all) but they both liked considering the end result.

Harvey and Zion saying cheese in front of a car destroyed in a life-saving demonstration

broken car tourists

Mama left at lunch time, after which we boys took in some dancing, a karate demonstration, and a brass quintet. Everyone left the area at the end of the shouting and jumping part, so we were able to get right up close to the horn players.

Harvey and Zion lying on the grass listening to a brass quintet

a small crowd but very engaged

Next we visited the library book sale. I'd given the boys fifty cents each to get a book, but the kids' section was a veritable wasteland; even Zion could see that. So after a pause to read some books and do some puzzles in the library proper, I took them out into the maze of booths to see if there was anything else they could buy. They settled on splitting a $1 brownie, showing excellent cooperation: the family meeting is working!

The only disappointment of the afternoon was missing the balloons. Apparently a bank was giving them out, but by the time we thought to try and get one they were all out. The boys settled for coloring books and crayons.

Harvey and Zion drawing in the playground

a calm end to the afternoon

Besides the balloons I'm sure there was a whole lot of fair that we didn't even see, but we enjoyed ourselves for a good five hours... and of course there's always next year!


almost Patriots Day

sousaphones from the Londonderry, NH, high school band

big horns under stormy skies

It's Lexington's 300th birthday this year, and to celebrate they confused everyone by holding the Patriots Day parade a day early. Despite the change of day and some startlingly cold weather, there was a good crowd and parade units from all over. Old favorites, too:

a British grenadier

pleased this year to be in broadcloth

Unlike last year it was not warm, which affected both our level of enthusiasm and the number of photos I took (the amount of food consumed was unchanged, and included all our snacks from home plus hot dogs and kettle corn). Grandma and Grandpa Archibald joined us for the viewing, which was very nice, but they are not pictured here; neither, in fact, is Harvey or most of Leah. But Zion is always photogenic.

Zion in mama's lap, watching the parade

too cold to look enthusiastic

You can be assured that he was holding a flag, even if you can't see it in that picture.

As well as the grandparents we also persuaded the Stevenses to come out for the parade, but traffic and road closings prevented them from making it to our viewing spot so we had to catch up with them later (they provided the kettle corn). As former residents of Philadelphia, they were just the people to explain the most colorful parade unit, a group of mummers from that fine city.

a gaily-dressed banjo-playing Philidelphia mummer

what's that look for?! he's the one playing banjo wearing a giant jester's cap...

A good show all around. Let's do it again next year.



the Forward! Marching Band in action

red for a reason

We love crazy leftists and we love marching bands, so when our friend Luke came to church just to let us know about a festival combining the two we just had to go, nevermind that we were completely unprepared. Honk! was calling!

I suppose that improvisation was in the spirit of the thing anyhow, and the timing worked out perfectly for us to get to the Cambridge Common just in time to catch most of the parade. And what a parade it was! Bands, puppets, bands, anti-Zionist chanters, and more bands! Also a roller-derby team and people on bicycles. There were only two issues with our lack of preparation, one of which was our lack of a proper camera; moving parade units are hard to photograph effectively at the best of times and impossible with a cell phone camera with no zoom and a three-second shutter delay. So you'll have to take my word for it that it was totally awesome and may have spoiled us for any other parades, ever.

One of the coolest parts—well, besides the marching cello and the anti-Scott Brown buffalo totem—was the presence of tons of kids. It made me worry that we were doing our boys a disservice by not involving them in crazy alternative lifestyles until Leah pointed out that we do some tolerably crazy things ourselves and, besides, we have plenty of time yet. I can tell you that we've been practicing music at home pretty much non-stop since!

the Church Marching Band in a crowd of happy hipsters

all types in attendance

After the parade we pushed through the crowds to Harvard Square, where Honk! combined with Octoberfest to produce the biggest festival we've ever experienced. We heard some music, chatted with friends last seen at a parade in Lexington, and had a surprising amount of money sucked out of our pockets in the interest of feeding ourselves and supplying Harvey with amusements. You'd think four stages of live band music plus break dancers, costumed freaks, and more people than we've seen in the last six months would have kept him entertained, but the Thomas-inspired road train ride proved to be completely irresistible and returned in Harvey enjoyment well more than the six dollars it cost. We didn't pay for the bounce house, though, so some tears for that.

But it was starting to rain by then anyways, so under our umbrella—hey, even improvising we come prepared!—we made our happy way back to the car. Which of course broke down half-way home, but that's another story.

Next year's festival is already on our schedule—or would be, that is, if the dates were actually published yet—and next time we'll bring our own food. Perhaps we'll bicycle there as well.