Before the official arrival of summer, in Three Oaks, Michigan, home of the self-proclaimed “Worlds Largest Flag Day Parade,” summer begins with a bang on or around June 14th. The solstice, in its more graceful arrival, its lengthening days and the dusk-filled with fireflies, its s’mores round the fire, and its beach tramps, stands opposite the raucous float-filled, tractor belching, parade.
Of course, solstice celebrating druids probably did as much playing and noise making as the citizens here in Three Oaks, so maybe its just my romantic notions of summer solstice that make Flag Day’s antics well — antics. I am sure our ancestors welcomed summer with as much imbibing and dancing as we modern flag wavers.
Flag Day plans are made well in advance, and I knew months ahead of time that I was in charge of appetizers and a cake (blueberry and strawberry bundt — red, white, and blue). As we become part of the neighborhood here in Three Oaks, we seem to know that our presence is required on Flag Day. EE might have been in Greensboro, North Carolina for the New Balance Nationals High Schools Championships with his star runner, but aside from the cost, EE would have missed Flag Day. So, he stayed. And our friends and family visited, and even noted, with some sarcasm, my earlier exhortations to attend this annual event. Foxy said, “Peggy was quite animated in her description of what happens on Flag Day, so I had to see it.” Maybe to outsiders, Flag Day’s appeal is the quaint small-town parade and neighborhood party. But that’s a good a reason as any to celebrate summer.
Foxy also noted — kids love a parade. Monkey Man and Gorilla Girl, armed with a bucket, collected more candy than on Halloween. Clowns apparently are much less frightening when they are tossing fistfuls of Tootise rolls and bubble gum on the parade route.
My own engagement with Flag Day this year was somewhat less enthusiastic, if only because I had enjoyed the pre-party much too much Saturday night; after a day of dancing in the park, chopping and cooking, and getting fantastically beaten at ping-pong in the barn (all while drinking good beer), it took concerted effort to get to the Parade. I even had to get Foxy to take my place at the bean bag toss game at the party.
I’ve already started planning for next summer, and those plans include NOT imbibing too much the night before the parade — I want to be as perky as these float wavers next year!