I spent the 4th visiting with my mother, my sister and her partner, and my brother, his wife and their kids in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, where all of them make their homes. My mother's home is in the section of Old Orchard Beach known as Ocean Park (aka Chautaqua-by-the-Sea), which was established in 1880. My relatives has a long history of involvement with the Ocean Park Association.
The day started when my brother dropped his daughter off with me and my mother (my niece turns 4 later this month), so that he and his son (now 5 1/2) could join his buddies in decorating his pickup as a float, as they do every year. Meanwhile, his wife went to work (she manages an outlet store in Kittery). My sister and her partner arrived about 9am, and by 9:30 the five of us started walking the mile to the beach.
The Parade kicked off shortly after 10am with the traditional throng of kids and their parents riding decorated bikes and trikes, or being pulled along in wagons. Several marching groups and floats followed behind, and 3 Fire Department vehicles brought up the rear. Most of the groups and floats have some people carrying bags of wrapped candies that they throw to the crowds lining the street.
Several of the groups and floats appear every year: my brother and 3 of his buddies dress up in red-and-white striped jackets and US-flag-themed neckties, and they stand in the back of my brother's decorated pickup truck and sing a variety of patriotic songs from both the US and Canada as a fifth friend drives. (Why Canada? Ocean Park attracts a significant number of vacationers from Canada, and Canada Day happened only 3 days earlier. So the sing O Canada, too.) Other groups that appear every year include the Ocean Park Marching Band, the Ocean Park Kazoo Band, and the Ocean Park Lawn Chair Drill Team.
After the parade ended, my brothers kids joined a group of other kids for an afternoon of fun and frolic at the beach and at the home of some of the kids, then went home for a much needed nap. Meanwhile, the rest of us went to our respective homes to do chores, nap or cook. We started gathering at my brother's home at about 5pm, and by the time my brother's wife got home from a long day of selling sterling silver to the masses, we were ready to sit down to a fine meal of barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, corn on the cob, and baked beans, finished with brownies and homemade wild-blueberry pie. And then I drove home to Boston while listening to the last hour of the Boston Pops Esplanade Concert on WBZ.