In Brooklin, Maine, on July 4, 2016
Independence Day is celebrated here the old-fashioned way: It’s a time for enjoying a small town’s gifts; gossiping with friendly neighbors, and realizing – in one of the most basic ways -- how privileged it is to be an American on a fine day in Maine.
The morning begins with buying a balloon to help the eighth grade and waiting for the parade to start. It’s summer time and the waiting is easy. There are many people and dogs to greet. In the background, the remarkably good Brooklin Town Band plays rousing marches and lilting summer tunes under the tall maple trees in front of the Library.
The parade starts on Reach Road near Haven Colony and winds its way down tree-lined country roads – east, past the small Post Office, Brooklin Inn, and Betsy’s Sunflower Store; then, south at the Stop sign -- the Town’s only traffic signal -- onto Naskeag Road, where the General Store is being rebuilt; and, finally, west on Mountain Ash Road to the Town Green.
Leading the parade are four veterans who no longer are young, but who still can march a couple of miles or so, sometimes in unison. One of these men carries the Stars and Stripes, one carries a military rifle from a prior era, the other two carry veterans’ organization flags. People clap as the Nation’s flag reaches them; the flag, in turn, waves gently in a slightly-sea-scented breeze.
Thus begins the annual Brooklin July 4th parade. Fire trucks and rescue equipment from Brooklin and neighboring towns get priority positions – our taxes tangibly at work in glistening red equipment that speeds on fat tires, has sirens, and even protects us. One or two fire trucks from the past usually appear, as well.
There also are the antique and vintage cars. Collecting old automobiles is a popular hobby in Maine, especially for those who have heated garages in which to spend evenings and winter weekends trying to keep these disappearing vehicles not only operational, but beautiful.
The rest of the Brooklin parade is an exercise in creative eccentricity. There are floats and other large, homemade mobile displays that differ each year. One especially intriguing display this year was a pair of huge ospreys that “flew” over the parade route on sticks borne by their creators (à la the Muppets or Lion King characters).
Interspersed within the parade are those who simply want to strut and pedal: a bag-piper in Elton John sunglasses,; children on decorated bikes, and other happy travelers.
Barbecued chicken, hot dogs, and all the trimmings await everyone at the Town Green, where the Brooklin Band once again provides a background of summer music for more socializing.
Of course, there also are games for the young, including the infamous Brooklin wet sponge throw.
And, there is more. Larger versions of the above images and others can be viewed by clicking the link below. We recommend that your initial screening be a full-frame slideshow. (To make that happen, click on the Slideshow button [>] above the featured [largest] image on the gallery page to which the link will take you.) Here's the link:
Barbara and Dick