This may or may not offend you.
Let me tell you about the real America as I see it and how a good example can be found at my friend’s Tiki bar in northeast Florida. But we have to take a little ride to get there. Buckle up, get comfortable and please don’t get out until we get where we’re going.
We start this past July 4th when I traveled to a small town in middle Tennessee to run their July 4th 5K road race. I could have gone into Nashville for a bigger race and flashier experience, but I wanted the small-town feel. Besides, I’ve run the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta on July 4th with 50,000 of my closest friends. I like small better.
This race had about ninety participants and, to be expected in a small town, a lot of them seemed to know each other. The race was a fund raiser for the local high school cross country team which, with twenty runners, was the biggest team they had ever fielded. Yeah, it just seemed like a good race to run.
There was a relaxed and friendly vibe with lots of smiles as we mingled before and after the race. The vibe reminded me of one the lovely and talented Mrs. Ward and I experienced when we lived in a small coastal town in northeast Florida. I won’t name the town because it has been discovered enough already. It would be nice if the people who live there could have a few more years to enjoy it before it is overwhelmed with development.
For the last 23 years this town has held a certain festival in the spring of the year. The festivities include a Thursday afternoon parade that struts down the six blocks of main street in the center of town. The first year of our residence we had a table on the deck of a locally owned Mexican restaurant. We ate nachos and drank margaritas as we took in the spectacle that is so unique to a small-town parade. The next year we were right back on that same patio with our nachos and margaritas awaiting the arrival of the parade.
And what a parade it was.
There were fire trucks and sheriffs’ cars. Two high school marching bands. The dance school, the gymnastics school and the karate school with teachers and students displaying their skills. People walked along the parade route giving out candy, Mardi Gras beads and coupons for discounts at almost every store in town. The Shriners were…