This Fourth of July parade began in the typical way. Representatives of the U.S. armed forces marched rigidly down the town’s main street. They wore uniforms. They carried huge flags holding them high in the afternoon breeze. Veterans watching gave a salute. Patriots held a hand across their heart.
The parade ended in the typical way too. An ambulance, a rescue truck and fire truck all gleaming with a fresh polish, all draped with red, white and blue. The emergency lights flashed. And, just for fun, the spirited driver blasted the siren startling the crowd and pleasing the children.
Where were the bands? Where were the majorettes? What about the floats? We saw none of these.
Instead we saw happiness on every young face in the parade. They were the kids from Bay Cliff Health Camp. Bay Cliff is a wellness center for children and adults with physical disabilities. The children in this parade had come to Bay Cliff for a summer therapy camp. Their ages ranged from 3 to 17 years old. Their disabilities may have been orthopedic, speech, hearing or vision but their determined spirit was unhampered. As they children passed by me on the Main Street of Big Bay, they greeted me with a “Happy Fourth of July!”
Creative use of cardboard, duck tape, and paint turned ordinary boxes into yellow submarines, airplanes, and race cars. Banners made from bed sheets and stretched between birch poles announced the coming of each group by cabin number. Lady Liberty walked among Egyptian mummies, colorful parrots, lions with hair made of yarn, and a wagon full of little tykes where one nodded off for a nap. All in the crowd expressed their enthusiasm with cheers and applause as the kids paraded past.
An afternoon drive exploring the Upper Peninsula of Michigan brought Ed and me to Big Bay. We hadn’t planned to attend the Bay Cliff Fourth of July Parade; it just happened that we arrived in town at 3 PM when the parade began. I have seen many parades during my 25,000 Mile Grand Tour of the US and Canada but none were as unique or as pleasing as the Bay Cliff Parade.
July 4, 2009