Yesterday I experienced my first Fourth of July in Iowa. The skies teased with raindrops every few minutes but luckily by noon, when the parade began, the sun had peeked its way through the grey blanket of clouds above.
We sat along the side of the road in John‘s hometown as other families with tarps, canopies, blankets, and lawn chairs lined the same route. Children ran outside with plastic bags that puffed up and danced in the wind. I was unclear of their purpose until the parade began to pass our way.
The Color Guard marched through first, firing off rounds of blanks as the crowd stood at attention. “These were hot items when I was little,” said John as he scooped up a bullet casing and presented it to me proudly as a souvenir.
Tractors, classic cars, ATVs, dirtbikes, and rollerblades carried proud business owners, sports teams, and elected officials in a loop around town that began and ended at the fairgrounds.
Every cub scout troupe, farmer, and “little miss” tossed out candy as they passed (except for the local dentist’s office that lofted toothbrushes into the crowd). Children scurried to pick up the Tootsie Rolls, bubble gum, licorice, mints, lollipops and chocolate coins from the road, loading up the bags which had been waiting anxiously in the breeze.
One farmer tossed out whole kernels of corn, while another handed out foil-wrapped pork sandwiches.
Restored tractors with placards announced the make, model, year and owner of the machines as they chugged by. Farmall, John Deere, New Holland, Ford. My brother-in-law asked me not to blog about the tractors but, how could I not?
Over in Bellevue, Iowa their parade was far less scenic as tragedy struck when two horses with a carriage went on a rampage. The news has since reached far an wide, prompting several people to message John and I to see if we’re okay.
Our parade lasted about an hour and on the tail end came the horses, which all seemed well-behaved. Braided tails, flag-covered saddles, and saddlebags stocked with chilled canned beverages.
Once the parade wrapped up it was time for food. John’s parents had visitors in from all over, from Iowa City to just down the block. Their house was a hub of activity with pot luck dishes, BBQ, margaritas and good cheer.
The rain decided to pick and festivities moved indoors. The evening fireworks were canceled due to the weather as we all hung out around the dining room table playing cards and catching up.
I know that we could have selected pretty much anywhere as our summertime vacation destination however we’ve always meant to come back either for the Fourth or for the county fair (which takes place at the end of July).
No matter how often he now says “eh” or quotes hockey scores, John’s an Iowan through and through. Spending time here, in the place where he grew up, only brings me closer to him and the proud and loving family whose name I am so lucky to bear.
Update Here are some of John’s photos from the Fourth of July.
You may view all photos from our trip in this set on Flickr