Author’s Note: I’ve made a list of 100+ events, places and experiences that happily unite people. I’m taking a tour to see and experience as many of them as possible, and also meet up with Society members and friends. Of course, I’ll be sharing these #HappinessUnites moments with you. Or find out more of the why’s of the #HappinessUnites Tour in my article: 3 Reasons I’m Hittin’ the Road. Or find where my #HappinessUnites Tour has taken me so far – and what I’ve had time to write about. If you want to meet up with me, check out my #HappinessUnites Tour schedule.
#HappinessUnites Tour – Stop 21: Parades
Watching the Rose Parade with my mom was a New Year’s Day tradition. I’m not sure if my mom loved the floats or the roses more, but I do know roses were here favorite flower. She also loved all of the marching bands because I think they reminded her of her high school majorette days. After I started the Secret Society of Happy People, one of my secret wishes has been that we’d have a float in the Rose parade. It looks like a place full of happiness.
We also watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day while cooking Thanksgiving dinner most years. I always wanted to see that parade in person, but I think that’s because I wanted to visit New York City and thought it might be the catalyst to get my mom to take me. I eventually made it to New York City, but not for the parade — at least not yet.
I was around 5 when my parents took me to my first parade, the Coleman Rodeo Parade. I mostly remember the horses and that the floats didn’t look like the ones in the Rose or Macy’s Thanksgiving Parades. I was also given a flag to wave.
As I got older, I always wanted to be one of the girls dressed up on the floats waving at the crowds. I was in a princess phase. When I was around twelve, I kind of got my wish when I was on the county 4-H parade float for the West Texas Fair & Rodeo, however, I didn’t get to be the girl in the long dress standing and waving. Instead, I was sitting in my 4-H green T-shirt waving. Nevertheless, I still had fun riding the float.
The thing I love about parades is that they bring communities together – the community might be a city, county, or even a nation, in the cases of the Rose and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades. People unite because they are celebrating an event, people they may know in the parade and the artistry of the floats. I wanted to attend a parade for the #HappinessUnites Tour and picked the Grapevine Veterans Day Parade.
Veterans Day was a grey, cloudy and cool day. When I arrived on Main Street to watch the parade, the streets were lined with people who shared a common interest in honoring our veterans. They were united by their support of our vets.
The crowd included families with kids, couples, and individuals of all ages. Many attendees were waving flags and carrying signs of support. The parade marchers, included people of all ages from kids to adults, who gave the parade watchers flags and candy. Other parade participants included pets, motorcycles, antique cars, military vehicles, and floats being pulled by pick-up trucks. As everyone waived at each other, I held my large #HappinessUnites sign that I’d decorated with flags. Some parade marchers even yelled #HappinessUnites and waived at me. That made me smile.
After the parade ended there was a social with music, food, and booths for agencies that offered services for veterans. It was also a chance for everyone to get to talk to each other – and you could easily recognize the people who’d known each other for years.
Speaking with the veterans was a humbling experience. Although everyone was smiling, talking and laughing, being around so many men and women who had been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, on behalf of our country and democracy reminded me of how many of us have never made sacrifices to show our patriotism. While we can thank those who serve and have served, for their service it felt like an inadequate exchange for their actions. It feels like we owe them more than a thank you and parade.
As I left the parade, I was still smiling — because after all, parades are about celebrating. This parade was about celebrating the lives of those who served our country, and that’s something we should all be happy to celebrate.