posts tagged with 'parade'

Patriots Day

It's been a while since we got to celebrate Patriots Day properly. And I hadn't realized until I looked back at the records that in 2018 the parade was cancelled due to rain. So before this past weekend we'd only had one parade in the past four years! Thankfully everyone's given up on caring about Covid and the sun was shining merrily on Monday for us to finally get to enjoy another iteration of this timeless tradition. And enjoy it we did!

kids watching the parade approaching

just like old times (with the addition of a Ukranian flag)

Our Patriots Day fun actually started the weekend before, with Pole Capping. Then on Saturday we took in the reenactment at Tower Park, also something we've missed for two years. In all the excitement I forgot my camera in the car, and even though I said before that all the pictures of the event always turn out the same I still missed having it. The phone at least shows that we were there.

Elijah watching redcoats at Tower Park

the regulars are coming!

The parade is also something that always looks the same, though there were a couple little differences this time. We had even more friends to sit with—many of whom also biked from our house with us, which was a fun adventure on its own. And it was the longest parade ever. I guess everyone else was excited to be part of it too! All of it was delightful; we particularly enjoyed, variously, the blues band, brass bands, fife and drum corps, a pennyfarthing bicycle, a tiny horse and some big horses, Shriner mini-big-rigs and drift tricycles, kung fu artists with swords, and a real time-machine Delorean. And probably some other things I forgot. We also enjoyed fried dough, Italian ice, and candy. It was pretty cold, but at least it was sunny. Fun all around.

the kids sitting on a curb with friends waiting for the parade

they remember how to do it

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pole capping returns

The Pole Capping Parade is a Bedford tradition, but we haven't been able to do one since 2019. Well, case numbers may be rising again but never mind, Patriots Day observations are back on! And the threat of rain didn't deter a few loyal and hardy Bedfordites from turning out this past Saturday to take in the excitement.

Zion, Elijah, and friends watching the pole capping among costumed reenactors

big kids paying attention

We met friends at the green and had a joyful time running around and grading the costumes of the various units (the Piscataqua Rangers looked very fine in their new teal uniforms). Then we covered our ears for the shooting along the parade route (but not for the excellent fifing). New this year, we watched the whole of the Pole Capping presentation—despite the steady rain that started midway through the parade. These kids are big now, and don't have any trouble sitting through speeches! In fact, in our post-event roundup they all thought that Select Board member Emily Mitchell's was particularly good (I also enjoyed the poem by town historian Sharon McDonald—too few events feature original poetry these days). The sun was shining again by the time things wrapped up.

a man waving to the crowd from on top of the libery pole

he didn't have to climb in the rain

Afterwards we went to the playground for a while, and then were disappointed that the traditional library book sale has not returned. We were so sure it would happen that we brought our money into the library and everything! It turns out that it's still a couple week away. So there's that to look forward too, and in the meantime a lot more Patriots Day fun to come next weekend!

drums and feet of the William Diamond Fife and Drums

historical

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Bedford Day returns!

Bedford Day was cancelled in 2020 thanks to the pandemic. So was Pole Capping, Fourth of July, and Halloween. Then we also missed Pole Capping and Fourth of July in 2021. So let me tell you, there was some excitement for Bedford Day 2021! It happened this past weekend, and it was spectacular.

Zion watching fireworks

boom!

I don't know if there were more people out than the last time we celebrated as a town, but enthusiasm certainly felt higher as we arrived at the center of town for the parade Saturday morning. We met the same friends as last time—well, mostly, since in the intervening years all the kids have gotten older so some of them are now marching with karate or soccer. So we waved at them. There was a little less candy-throwing than past years but still plenty, lots of which—again—failed to reach the barricades along the side of the street. We didn't let our kids crawl under, but they still managed to get enough to kick off their sugar rush.

the boys and friends watching the boys scout float go by

local color in full flower

Zion, Elijah, and some other kids scrambling for candy at the parade

their instincs kick in

Not that they needed much parade candy, because the fair following the parade was full of sugary treats. Elijah was possessed by the idea of cotton candy so the first thing we did was wait in a long line to get some at $3 a shot (Zion too; Harvey chose a much shorter line for pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream). We felt a little sheepish later when we found another booth with free cotton candy, but that just meant the kids got another hit. We also enjoyed snow cones (free), popcorn ($2), and homemade chocolate chip blondies ($1: much the best deal). Plus we even found time to eat the lunches we brought!

Elijah with a big pink cotton candy

he's been waiting for this for two years

Zion's two best friends were in the karate demonstration this year, so it was extra fun to watch. And there were balloons to play with, and fire trucks to tour, and the library book sale. Elijah got face paint. Then everything started closing down and we went home.

Zion, Elijah, and a friend sitting on little steps eating snowcones

everybody starting to wind down

But unlike past years, that wasn't the end of the festivities! In Bedford we have Fourth of July fireworks only every five years, and we missed our shot in 2020. Never mind, leftover fireworks are much better in September, when the show can start at 7:30! We rejoined our friends—they brought glow sticks!—and the kids ran and played until the sky lit up with the most amazing fireworks display I've seen for at least two years.

more fireworks

now that's a celebration

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a day in our town

An article in the Bedford Citizen asks if this past Saturday was the best Bedford Day ever. I don't know about that. The St. Paul's Church booth didn't have nearly the bake sale spread we're accustomed to, and the candy throwing at the parade caused just as much chaos as it always does. On the other hand, the weather was beautiful. And there was free cotton candy.

Zion eating blue cotton candy

Bedford day blue

We started the day off with the parade, and we had a big gang together at our traditional viewing spot: four families that planned to be there, and one more who we just happened to meet there. New this year, the town set up some barricades along the street to, I assume, keep the kids from crowding the parade off the road in their desperate scramble for candy. We were happy to see them.

the boys watching the parade from behind a metal barricade

behind the barricades

Not that they totally worked... besides the gaps in between them that let anybody with a lack of self-restraint come around in front, most of the people throwing candy from trucks didn't manage to get any of it actually over the barriers. Which felt kind of even more dangerous than not having them there at all? No worries for us, though; we stayed safely behind.

Then it was on to the fair. There was plenty more candy available at various booths, plus fruit at one and toothbrushes at a couple others to balance out the sweets. But we didn't last long; with the summery weather everybody was out there and it was a little overwhelming. Most of us quickly escaped to a shady spot for lunch. And from our shady spot we could watch the karate demos and dance performances—plus keep an eye on kids on the playground—so there didn't seem much reason to move for quite a while.

Eventually we decamped to the library for the book sale, and also because we just like being in the library. Several of our friends had by then left to watch the high school football game—rescheduled from Friday night due to EEE mosquito fears—so when they let me know that the second half was starting and admission was now free I forced the boys away from their bookish reverie for some real American sporting. I don't know how much of the game we actually absorbed over the 20 minutes we managed to stay in the stadium, but we certainly felt like we taking part in some real Bedford life.

the boys and friends sitting in the Sabourin Field stands

ready for some football

Then leaving the stadium we watched some middle school boys rolling down a steep hill in truck tires: at least as thrilling as the football!

It was a fine day. Bedford Day continues to be one of my favorite days.

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Patriots days

In the first half of April we celebrated nine days of Patriots Day festivities in Bedford and Lexington. Things kicked off here in Bedford with the pole capping parade; I've written before how cool it is that we get all the minute companies to start the season, and this year was no exception.

minuteman firing a volley in the Pole Capping parade

Patriots Day starts with a bang!

It wasn't all guns and aggression; there was lots of lovely fife and drum music too, and a handful of colonial women and children.

colonial women and girls walking in the parade

rounding out the picture of Colonial life

The weather was beautiful—clear and mild—so for the first time ever we actually stayed for the pole capping itself. We were there with friends, and all the kids endured the politicians' speeches without complaint (it helped that we gave them snacks). Our friend Andrew, who moved to town a couple years ago, said it was the most Bedford thing he'd ever experienced. It was especially fun cheering for our neighbor Samantha, who won an award as the most notable high school senior and had to sit up front looking respectable through all the speechifying. Then they put the hat on the pole.

the lucky minuteman atop the pole waving his liberty cap

made it!

The following Saturday was again warm and beautiful, perfect weather for cycling to Lexington to watch the big reenactment at Tower Park. I take pictures of it every year and they're all about the same, but it's such an experience I couldn't resist yet another round.

redcoats forming up in a haze of gun smoke

the fog of war

One difference this year is that, having biked, we were in position to watch the proceedings from the back side. That was great for the first part of the battle, but less optimal as the fighting moved east with a swamp between us and the action. I followed some other people into the woods to see what we could see, but the minutemen yelled at us so we had to go back. Unlike the more famous reenactment in Lexington Center, though, this one is big enough that there's always something to see.

minutemen in the woods

like watching from backstage

The weather was looking iffy for Monday's parade, the highlight of the week's festivities. It was cancelled last year due to rain, so we were really hoping not to miss it again. Morning rain led us to cancel our own plans for a pre-parade picnic in Lexington, but things looked fine for the parade itself at 2:00 so at quarter to one we gathered up our three-family group of cyclists and headed out. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves until my mom called me ten minutes into the ride to let us know that, due to more rain in the forecast, the parade start had been moved up to 1:15. Yikes!

So we hurried. Zion was feeling week (he had skipped Saturday's ride because of sickness) so I carried him and his bike, but all the other kids (and adults) did great, and we made it the five miles up the hill in just 28 minutes—in plenty of time to find a good spot along the strangely empty parade route, and fortify ourselves after all our hard work with fried dough and Italian ice. We're always glad to be out for a parade.

Lijah smiling waiting for the parade

happy to be there!

Besides the reenactors and bands—and there were some fine bands this year—the parade highlights Lexington's increasingly diverse cultural makeup. We all liked getting up close and personal with this dragon.

a chinese dragon surprising the boys at the parade

roar

We were talking smack about the Shriners as their first units rolled by, but then we had to take it all back when the mini-big rigs—pretty great themselves—were followed up by a trio of motorized tricycles—basically powered big wheels. Two of them could drift and the third could turn on two wheels. Very exciting.

After the parade was exciting too. The decision to start the parade early was an inspired one, because just as the last unit went by our spot the sky turned dark, and within five minutes the first drops were falling (the parade still had close to a mile to go past us, so sorry to those folks!). We were prepared, and got everything packed up and everyone into raincoats in record time.

Lijah bundeled up in the cargo bike, Harvey on his bike in a raincoat

good thing we're tough!

Then the ride home featured weather that ranged from drizzle to torrential downpour. It was actually pretty great. I consider Patriots Day to have been celebrated.

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Patriot season

Saturday was the pole capping here in town, marking the beginning of the Patriots Day season. The holiday starts early in Bedford. We biked up to take in the festivities.

fifers and drummers in colonial garb

marching into reenactment season

We paid special attention to the reenactors' outfits because we're just beginning our unit on Colonial times (I told the boys that morning that we would start in on Monday; Harvey asked, "why not today?!"). I took more photos of people's backs than I usually do.

a backpack, bedroll, and canteen on the back of a reenactor

historical details

It's interesting to see the different styles—the balance between historical accuracy, individualism, and comfort. I noticed comfortable walking shoes—black, but definitely 21st century—on the feet of some of the older reenactors. This morning we looked at the pictures and talked about why people were wore the things they did, and how they might have made different parts of the outfits. I do always think that studying clothes is a great way to get into any historical period. There may have also been an extended discussion about firearm technology.

We didn't talk much about the music we heard, though that would be a fun thing to explore too. Harvey was the videographer for the expedition, and captured nearly the whole parade; we'll take a look at that tomorrow and see what we can come up with in the way of a band.

Harvey videoing the parade

for future reference

And we're looking forward to lots more Patriots Day fun to come this weekend!

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musical weekend

Last weekend—I mean, the one before last—was the Honk Festival in Somerville. As promised after last year, I didn't try and take the boys to the Saturday part of the affair, and that was a great decision. Operating alone, I was able to bike the whole way there after lunch and fully enjoy several hours of wonderful loud music and anarchist culture.

a trumpet player amidst the crowd

festival atmostphere

I managed to take in two whole hour-long sets: the Party Band, who were the best, and What Cheer Marching Band, who were the unremittingly loudest. Also 45 minutes of New Creations Brass Band, 15 of Emperor Norton's, and assorted fleeting moments of other groups. And when the music was good I was dancing the whole time—except when I needed to take breaks due to exhaustion or to give my bleeding ears a break.

right behind the New Creation drummers

ever so loud

Then I made the long ride home in the dark. All that anarchism and band music put me in a great mood to begin with, and it was only improved by a perfect ride: from just beyond Davis Square all the way to our front walk without so much as a toe touching the ground. I was so delighted I removed all restrictions on the boys' screen time at the neighbors' house; the kids can make their own good decisions, man!

sunset over the trolley wires

a moment on the way home

Then on Sunday torrential rain beginning at 9:30 made the noon parade look a little doubtful, but things cleared up wonderfully at about twenty of, so all five of us made the short drive from church towards Harvard Square, where we set up camp at the Kemp Playground to wait for the music. And it was well worth the wait!

band members striking a pose on the parade route

parade pose

Besides the bands, the kids loved the stilts, the puppets, and the bicycles... and there was even one group handing out candy! (And really handing it out, not tossing it to the ravening crowds like at Bedford Day; it was a lovely experience of personal connection.) Even better than candy, one group of marchers was even distributing free hot dogs to the parade audience, complete with ketchup and mustard to order! Let's hear it for music and anarchy.

the leaders of the parade carrying a

good times

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Bedford with friends

Saturday was Bedford Day, and we celebrated it with more friends than ever before! The allure of our wonderful town is hard to resist; people we already know and love keep moving here. So naturally we got together to celebrate all Bedford has to offer.

the boys and friends waiting on the curb before the parade

almost parade time!

Which turns out to be mostly lots of candy and kids desperate to get their hands on it. Last year I recall being a little calmer, but on Saturday everyone was full of energy and ready to charge into the scrum.

the boys scrambling for candy--along with lots of other kids

candy chaos

It was a little overwhelming, actually; there were some tears. I'm afraid it didn't show the town in its best light: no one could see the little ball players for all the chaos around them. At least no one got run over, though there were nervous moments in front of us. And with all the competition our candy haul was disappointing to at least two members of the family (I'm inclined to see that as one small silver lining).

Of course, the parade wasn't all bad. The trucks were as loud as ever you could want, and Lijah's friend Henry seemed to be completely satisfied. For his part, Lijah endured the little bit of gunfire from the Bedford Minutemen with greater-than-usual stoicism (though he didn't like it). And the Party Band was there to give us a few moments of good music.

Then after the parade we spent a delightful three or four hours at the fair. We watched the karate demonstrations—Zion is ready to sign up right now, especially after he broke three boards at the recruitment booth—and the fitness dancing. We bought books at the book sale and got balloons and bubbles for free. We ate our lunch from home, then supplemented it with brownies and cupcakes from the Episcopal bake sale. And the boys got to go in the fire truck. Zion enjoyed one special reward of fair-going with friends: another dad took pity on the middle-sized children's desperate need to play mini golf at $2/person, and funded them one round. Now that's generous!

Zion, Nathan, and Julen playing mini golf

worth every penny

We all had a great time. Even the great heat didn't deter us a bit (most of us; Lijah may have been slightly deterred in his fleece pajamas). We were so content that it wasn't even very upsetting to lose Harvey on the way out and spend ten minutes looking for him, only to hear from Leah that he made his way home on his own. All's well that ends well!

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our tiny Patriots Day celebrity

The Bedford parade and pole capping feels like months ago now: we've been through like two seasons since then. But it was really only a couple weeks, so I'm not too late in posting this collection of images that the Bedford Citizen collected. Or only a little bit too late: I had the link open in a tab for a couple days before I managed to actually look at it this evening, mainly to see if the boys and I made it into any photos. Sure enough, there we are on page 8, top right-hand corner. There are lots of very pretty photos to see in that document; ours, sadly, is not one of them. But at least it shows we were there!

As it happens, so were a great many other people, many of them kids. Why did they pick us to single out—with a not-technically-accomplished photograph, no less?! Is it just because we're locally famous for getting around town on a ridiculous bicycle? Was it Lijah's tiger pajamas? Realistically, it was probably Zion's musket that did it; nobody else thought to bring their guns to town this year. On the next page the only kid in attendance wearing ear protection also gets a photo, so it could be they were looking for uniqueness rather than beauty. And there's no denying we're unique! Sometimes even more than I'd like... but mostly I'm just proud. There are worse things than having people pay attention to you as a result of your strange life choices.

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April makes Patriots of us all

Hot on the heels of Easter, Monday was Patriots Day. We hardly had time to recover—didn't have time, in fact, but we couldn't stop and rest: there was a parade to go to! Unlike last year we didn't make a big thing of inviting lots of folks to join us in biking and picnicking and watching, but we did mention it in passing; and such was the success of last years event that we had plenty of company again this year. Including Lijah, enjoying his first Patriots Day parade since his first one!

Lijah waving a flag along the parade route

Patriot boy

Our ride up was almost a perfect success, with the children 7 and up leading out at a blistering pace and two new riders—kindergarten and pre-K—making their longest effort to date. Unfortunately one of them (it was Julen) wrecked mere yards from our destination and busted his lip, but his enthusiasm was only dimmed for half an hour or so. It did kind of spoil his appreciation of our picnic lunch though! There was lots of food to delight the rest of us, and he did manage a popsicle.

Harvey, Zion, Lucy, and Clara picnicing on the green

plentiful pre-parade picnic

After some energetic freeze tag—why do I always have to be it?!—we headed over to our traditional viewing spot. I don't think we were ever all there at the same time, but if you total us all up there were 23 people associated with our party, spanning three generations (six of the kids had grandparents present!). Never mind the giant picnic, we needed slush to ease our wait (Nathan needed fried dough).

our big crowd sitting on (and behind) the curb

we all love a parade

Then we watched the parade. It's a big one. I've long realized that all my parade photos over the years look pretty much the same, so I eased up considerably on the photography. Still, there are some sights I just had to capture.

Lexington minutemen marching

marching

Last year's parade friends were more peripherally interested in the proceedings—this year I was sitting next to friends who enjoy parades as much as I do (and who were attending in Lexington for the first time) so we watched and commented with keen attention. It was lovely. And long... we were all sated with excitement and ready to head home when the last tank finally rolled past.

The ride home went just as well as the ride up. Julen, recovered in body but not in spirit, chose to join Zion and Lijah in the blue bike; it made a heavy load, but I could manage it downhill. More serious was the heavy crowd of walkers on the bike path through Lexington Center, but our kids only hit one elderly pedestrian hard enough for anyone to notice. Then the crowds thinned out and we were rolling free.

the gang, including me on the blue bike. heading home on the bike path

satisfied parade-goers

Leah, who had stayed home working, was ready to greet us on our arrival with veggie straws and ice water. Just the thing—the kids were hungry despite eating constantly for the past four hours, and we were all hot and tired. The weather wasn't actually that warm, but shepherding—not to mention carrying—all those kids is hot and thirsty work!

Then some of the crowd headed home, one additional child joined us for a sleep over with Harvey, and we all had dinner together.

lots of kids and a few adults eating at our picnic tables

outside again? why not

It was a tiring day, on top of another tiring day, capping off a tiring week. No wonder Lijah fell asleep before he could finish his dinner.

Lijah asleep in my lap

all worn out and done up

I was pretty wiped out too—yesterday I couldn't hold my head up to type by evening, so this story went unwritten. But I couldn't leave it too long. I'm sure there's lots more adventure coming this vacation week, and I don't want to get backlogged!

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