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I know I’m late in posting this, but one of the highlights of summer for me is the 4th of July Parade in our town. It’s a good parade, and very traditional with lots of floats, bands, community organizations, fire departments, military groups, veterans, and, of course, local politicians who want to be “seen”. My husband is on the “CVO” (Combined Veterans Organization) parade committee, and is involved in putting the parade together. This means I go alone, and am free to travel up and down the streets with my camera looking for good photos ops.

One group I always love is the Revolutionary War re-enactment militia. And — of course they shoot the cannon – while all the little children hold their ears, and bury their heads in their mother’s arms: (click any photo to see it larger in Flickr)

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Other military groups:

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1. World War II Vets – ride in various cars and floats
2. Korean War Vets
3. Vietnam Vets

A few bands:

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A few of the community floats and parade entries. There were many more, but this is just a sampling:

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1. Little League
2. Mason’s
3. Long Island East Ski Club. My husband and I were members of this group for a long time when we were younger (and our knees were better…) and took a few wonderful skiing trips out west…
4. Human Resources of the Hamptons
5. Lions Club
6. Kiwanis Club

And – then there are the fire departments….!

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Southampton Fire Department’s antique fire trucks

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1. Long line of fire trucks from North Sea Fire Department
2. The junior fire fighters

In my opinion (and only my opinion) the only negative of this parade – – and many parades, for that matter – – are the more politically motivated parade entries. Each year there are one or two, and I see them – at least in this atmosphere – as unnecessarily divisive. Parades are there to bring people together. Political statements divide. Or – at least that is the way things are in the present climate. Such was the affect of this year’s main political entry – the Suffolk County 9-12 Project – The Tea Party. It was one of the largest entries – many banners, marchers, a few decorated cars… I could not deny that it was impressive!

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In previous years there were entries from the “other side of the aisle” – which I didn’t like either, so it’s not about the Tea Party group, per se. Can we not put aside political divisiveness for one day and join together in what we DO share — the celebration of our nation’s birth. Since the parade there has been some contentious discourse in the “letters to the editor” of our local paper about an alleged ugly, unkind bumper sticker on the side of one of the cars. I didn’t see it, but I cannot deny that it could have been there – like on the other side of the car from where I could see. But – whatever the case, the ultimate result is divisiveness among us.

After the parade is over, I head for the Veteran’s Memorial Hall to meet up with my husband who is there after his work is done with the parade. we have some refreshments – usually hot dogs, chips and cake – before we go on home.

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1. The judges stand at the end of the parade
2. Sag Harbor Community Band plays a few patriotic selections after the parade is over
3. Veterans Memorial Hall
4. Across the street from Vets Hall is the World War I Memorial Park where both the Memorial Day and Veterans Day services are held.

When my hubby first began working on this parade, I didn’t like being left alone to watch it. In the early years, I didn’t always attend, as I’d always thought a parade is a social event, enjoyed by families and friends together. But – it didn’t take long for me to pick myself up and just … go. Once the photography bug hit me, it gave me another focus while I watched the festivities. I also found it was fun to be a free spirit at a parade. As I walk up and down the streets looking for photos, I always stop to chat with people I know along the way.

I think this is what I like about parades – – the joining of together of a community to commemorate a particular holiday or event. And, in the process the community (and friends and family) bond(s), as it also celebrates itself.

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