When we lived in our last home, every Fourth of July we'd go to a neighborhood adjacent to ours. They have an Independence day tradition that has been going on for thirty-some years, and since we have good friends who live there we were invited to join.
The festivities start at the end of one street which is shaped like an elongated C-shape. Folding tables are pulled out, and at nine in the morning people start arriving, heaping breakfast dishes onto them. There is always a ton of delicious food to choose from, along with coffee and juices.
Sometimes this is the only time these neighbors see each other; so some ways it feels like a yearly family reunion. Of course, best friends who see each other daily are there, too. Regardless, there is always a lot of hugging and exclaiming about how big the children have become, exchanging of life stories, both big and little. Newcomers to the neighborhood invariably express surprise at how welcoming and connected this community is. Throwback to the fifties is often expressed as a way to describe it.
After an hour and a half of mingling, the magic continues. Whhhhiiiiiirrrrr! Whoop! Whoop!
Around the corner comes a shiny red pumper engine.
"The firetruck is here! The firetruck is here!" children and adults alike exclaim.
The firefighters hop off the truck, the kids climb on. It's often the very same firefighters (they love this gig), and so people catch up with them as well, compare notes on how this year's weather compared to last year, marvel at this year's feast.
The crowd starts to gather behind the truck. Kids hop on their decorated bikes, strollers, skateboards, whatever, and The Parade has begun!
The firetruck rolls slowly down the street, a few dozen people behind it. The street is tree-lined, with a thick canopy of branches that did a great job of shielding us from the morning sunshine. Those with older kids are often sitting on their front lawns to wave and be waved at by the passing procession.
At the far end of the street, the engine hooks up to a hydrant and the kids take turns manning the hose and squirting water high into the air; ultimately, it rains down upon their friends who are dancing and laughing and generally enjoying getting doused from a fire hose.
When it's time for the firefighters to move on (laden with tons of foodstuffs as a gesture of thanks), the party continues all afternoon. There are games hosted in front yards, open BBQ's and swim parties.
Even though we aren't living within walking distance to this, we drove over this morning. We wouldn't miss it even if we had to drive an hour, or two. It's that special.
And you know what the best part of the day was?
When people hugged and greeted us this morning, they said this:
I am so excited that you're moving to our street next month!