Everyone Loves a Parade

Reposted from another blog: August of 2004

My parents used to live in Abingdon, VA. Here is a reposting of a blog I blogged about it:

So, to pick up where I left off… After the long road trip, I got some much-needed rest. Woke up the next morning and went to the Abingdon DMV, which is like our DMV, only smaller and next to a barn. My dad calls Abingdon “The Kingdom of Abingdon“. He really gets into it. Love it there. My mom thinks it’s hell on earth. I think it’s charming, yet sick. So, that’s a pretty even compromise. After the DMV (which took all of about 15 minutes canyoubelieveit) Dad had to pick up his drycleaning. Behind the drycleaners there is this “spray it your damnself” car wash place. Pretty standard for a small town… Except there were a bunch of overweight men standing around. Oh wait, this is southwest virginia….that’s pretty standard too. So I guess the only odd thing about it was that they were all dressed up like CLOWNS. Agh! It’s a bad dream come true! So I ask one of Abingdon’s finest, “What’s going on?” “Oh those guys? They’re just getting ready for the parade.” Sweet. What I’ve negelected to mention was this this was the opening weekend of the annual “West Highlands Festival” K. So apparently they kick it off each year with a parade. Sounds good to me. I’m expecting to see aforementioned clowns, little kids wth batons, maybe a high school marching band. But no. My dad and I walked up to this guy’s shop (he was the home inspector on their house, runs a photography studio, and owns an artsy fartsy retail shop that sells local art, not local art, fancy jewelry, fancy perfume, etc. ) to stand on the porch and watch the parade. I’m excited, because now that the sun is bright and shining, maybe the clowns won’t be so bad. After dodging Captian Artsy Local Man’s attempts to invade my personal space (as I watched my dad’s blood pressure rise) and finding myself a nice spot on the OTHER side of the porch, I watched as three or four 1930′ s cars went by (driven by the clowns, of course). Then it got better. The cars gave way to mini floats made out of cars with stuff like bales of hay on the back, moonshine stills, etc. Each guy trying to outdo the other. All dressed like clowns. Makeup and everything–every single one of them. In case you haven’t guessed, this was a shriner’s parade. Jericho Lodge #34 with the Illustrious Potentate behind the wheel. Out came the little mini cars–zooming around with their clown-clad drivers knees practically up to his ears. Little mini scooters, four wheelers, sports cars, vintage cars, motorcycles–all wee vehicles. Who makes these things? Is there a kit you can buy? Is there a Wee Vehicle Store? The Mini Car Emporium? Do you have to be a shriner to shop there, or do shriner’s just get a discount? Do wanna-be shriners hang out there and get made fun of by the real shriners? I have to know these things. I will know these things, I think to myself. Now, this is the south, so you know they were all waving like crazy. And, one even came over and told me I wasn’t smiling enough. I smiled really big then, and through clenched teeth asked, “Mr. Mongo, where do y’all buy your little cars and things?” He told me it was a secret, and that if he told me he’d have to kill me. Given that I’m afraid of clowns already, I didn’t push the issue. So the little motorcycles, sports cars, suvs, all the wee vehicles go by, zooming around, driving in formation, passing each other….the little sports cars even peeled out little tiny tire marks on the main drag of The Kingdom Of Abingdon (a country song in the making, obviously). I’m pretty amused by this point. Dad is talking Creepy Art Man’s ear off, so I’m left to enjoy the cacophony of shriner madness. Each section had it own music, of course, and I’d be lying if I told you that not a one of them was playing Dixie. (Down there it’s not racisim–it’s Southern Pride with a capital Outhern, if you know what I mean) The one little cart with the moonshine still (yes, I’m backtracking, leave me alone) was playing (of course) Whiskey In The Jar. No, not the Metallica version. Oh, but what’s this? The wee cars have given way to FULL SIZE MOTORCYLCES. Driven by CLOWNS. Driving FORMATIONS!!!!! Loud, rumbling, gleaming chromed beauties ridden by guys in oversized shoes. Amazing. Then, some vans. You know, just for good measure. One huge 18 wheeler with “Jericho Lodge #6, Washington County, VA helps Burned and Crippled Children” I promise you I didn’t make that up. Another van that made the same claim, from Marion, VA. All told I’d say there were about 19 or 20 different lodges represented. The guys were smiling, even through their sad clown make up. They were driving their wee stinky cars. They were having a blast. That moonshine still was real. You shoulda been there. **Note–I realize I asked a lot of questions in this blog, but if you know any of the answers, don’t tell me. You’ll ruin the surprise. I’m going to do the research and figure out the answers on my own for educational purposes. I’ll let you know what I find out. P.S. The car behind the “Runaround Sue” cart with the blowup doll had a bunch of guys in their underwear and Ray Steven’s song about shriners was playing. Oh, how the shriners love their irony….

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