I love a parade.
Having spent much of my youth in marching bands, it’s no wonder I have such a great affection for them. I’ve marched hundreds, if not thousands of kilometres from here to Holland and never tired of getting the opportunity to help celebrate a community’s special event. There are lots of stories I could tell you, from the performances that made my spine tingle (in a good way) to my ongoing war against my arch nemesis — the orange cone — but I’ll save those for another time.
It’s because of my love of parades, coupled with my desire to better know our communities, that I found myself in Dundas last week for the Cactus Festival.
I arrived about an hour before the parade and already there were families lined up along the route (I think I was one of the last cars they allowed to go up King Street). Even at that early hour, parking was already scarce and I ended up walking a distance seemingly equal to the parade route itself.
I found myself a tasty sausage and leaned against a parking meter (at no charge thanks to the parade) to watch the street fill. It’s always fascinating to see the variety of folks who turn out. Yes, there were lots of families with young children, but there were also older couples, young couples, groups of friends and a few people flying solo like me. The air was filled with a sense of excitement and anticipation about what was to come, along with the occasional escaped yellow balloon. To say the mood was festive would be a major understatement.
When it came, the parade itself was full of wonderful bands, led by the Dundas Pipes and Drums, and fun and creative floats from many of the groups and businesses in Dundas. More than once, someone in the parade called out to someone on the sidewalk next to me, so happy to see one another that you thought they hadn’t seen each other for years.
What was most striking were the total number of participants in the parade. It seemed like every business in town either had a float or was a sponsor. And lest you think that even the simplest float can be thrown together in a couple of hours, you could tell that a whole lot of work went into to those on parade. Then there are all the hours of rehearsal put in by not only the bands (sadly, my former band was not among those on parade), but by the other groups who danced or kicked their way along.
But perhaps those who deserve the most thanks are those who you didn’t see marching or waving last Thursday night. Those are the volunteers who organized it and made sure everything went smoothly. It’s thanks to those in the background who often forgo the fun of the events they’re helping to organize that we have weekends like the Cactus Festival.
Congratulations to you all. Your efforts paid off and all of us who enjoyed both the parade and the festival thank you for them.
— Gordon Cameron is the Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News