There were two things I had hoped to avoid in my writings so early on in my blogging career, politics and cynicism. After attempting to attend the 4th of July Parade in Alameda this morning, I realize there is no way to avoid either of these things. Let me be clear, my goal is not to offend anyone who enjoys parades, the 4th of July, or Alameda. I in fact enjoy all these things myself, but this morning, my misadventures in partaking in all three of these things at once proved somewhat comical to me and showed me that Alameda's 4th of July Parade is just too wholesome for me.
I woke up at 9:30am this morning, hurting a bit from the previous night's all too patriotic event of drinking beer and bowling, and decided that despite my hangover and the fact that I was already late, as the parade started at 10am and the goal was to be positioned in full parade watching mode by 9:30am, that I would grab one of my dogs, two chairs, and an iced coffee and go join in the festivities. My friend Star had suggested that I attend the parade despite my misgivings because she said it would be good for me to do something wholesome for once, as my usual activities are anything but, and that it would be good material for me to write about. As I got off the freeway and attempted to drive my normal route through Alameda to park close to Star's house, I became aware of just how grandiose this event was.
I had recently learned that Alameda's parade on this patriotic day is the second longest parade in the country. I suppose this shouldn't be that surprising considering Alameda's past as a Navy Naval Air Station until 1997. But still, with Washington D.C., West Point in New York, Camp Pendleton in San Diego, how does Alameda outdo such iconic staples of our national pride? But, back to finding a parking spot.....
I managed to get my bearings and re-route to find a place to park. Seeing so many people in the streets, with barricades and police everywhere, hearing helicopters in the sky, I couldn't help but think, that's odd, I didn't know Alameda had an Occupy movement. I was just about to warn my sequined, fellow protesters that they might get tear gassed when I remembered this was a different, but equally as odd, form of political expression, and that these patriots taking to the streets would most likely not be given orders to disperse or face arrest.
I leashed up my 55 pound, 6 year old rescue pit bull, already seeming incredibly out of place on the island, and we began our pilgrimage to find our friends in front of Big O Tires. After walking for about fifteen minutes we came upon the spectacle and while other dogs and kids and people of all ages stood there applauding floats going by, I scanned the backs of heads trying to spot my comrades. I glanced up at the passing floats and became aware that the crowd was applauding men, dressed in camouflage fatigues, riding floats and holding a whole variety of automatic weapons I'm not familiar with and don't care to be. Having just spent the past year and half working at a middle school in Oakland where we had to have two different lock downs due to students bringing guns to school, I decided I didn't want to be part of an event that had children cheering for gun toting patriots.
Again, my goal is not to offend or piss anyone off. I get it, you support the troops, you love freedom, that's all great. I don't want any of our troops to die abroad either, nor do I want them to kill people in foreign lands. That's right ladies and gentlemen, I'm one of those peace loving hippies. And that's when I decided, after an hour of driving to and scouring the island, looking for parking, and walking to join the throngs of parade goers, that this day of celebrating men and women, holding large guns and other toys of destruction, was, in fact, too wholesome for me.
Of course, I still plan on watching as fake bombs explode in the air tonight, over the picturesque bay, and we all "Oooo" and "Ahhhh" as we simulate warfare to celebrate this great country and of course, that grand ol' flag.