Celebrities! Events! Girl Scouts! Bagpipe Marching Bands!

The Memorial Day Parade is coming up and we are going to miss it. I hate missing it. The parade in Forestville is long and exciting. And it can be as long as you want it to be. There is a back way to different sections the parade route so the devoted watchers see it all go by up town and then hustle around the back to get down to Center Street to watch it all again. We have a band from the High School. We have Brownie and a Girl Scout Troop and a Boy Scout troup. We have a Color Guard of Veterans. We have our Fire Department in all their regalia and their old truck. There will be some horses. At the back so no one has to step around the evidence of their poor parade habits. And there will be old cars. One old car will have old Veterans in it. Everyone will end at the Legion Hall where a ceremony with a speaker and gun salute and the singing of The National Anthem will be held. Afterwords, some will share a lunch with beer and covered dishes if they are in the Legion or Legion Auxiliary.

If you are in an organization that marches you choose your parades from a schedule. The towns and villages march at different times so you can be in more than one. You are given a place by the Marshall to organize your marchers. The street you counted on to use to get to your assembly spot is already blocked off. You are important. You are a celebrity. You are part of the event. And you are late, all of you!

We have 2 real cities in our county and some more just across the border in Pennsylvania. It is clear that they are cities. They number their schools. They have wards. They have stop signs and stop lights. They have blocks. They have big buildings. They have parking meters and complicated parade routes. They have Veterans and Junior High School Bands and Senior High School Bands and the Falcons and the Kosciusko Club and the Sons of Viking, the Moose, the Elks. The steel drums. The parades are mpressive. The routes are long.

And we have little nearby villages like ours. South Dayton has a Main Street and a green, a 3 story hotel! Zollingers! A restaurant, a side street. I am pretty sure Forestville is bigger but I don’t want to pick a fight with anyone from South Dayton. Our hotel only has two stories.

South Dayton’s Memorial Day Parade marchers were getting organized one year when a panicked, lost group of bagpipers, a spit and polish bagpipe marching band from Canada rolled in to town. The Great Highland Band from St Catherine’s Ontario! They were on their way to Warren PA. They were really lost and they did not know how lost they were. They were also really late. So when the pipers and drummers saw the parade getting into formation they debarked the bus with relief. They straightened their tartans. They strapped on their bagpipes and their drums. They placed their sleek wooden treacly chanters in their mouths. They inflated their bagpipes with a drone that especially affected all the cows grazing on the outskirts of South Dayton, which are a block from the center of town. Like Forestville, it does not actually have a block.

The Great Highland Bagpipe Band from St Catherine’s Ontario got into formation, the drummers beating the cadence, the bagpipes asserting their presence. The Marshall assessed the situation. He knew they were lost and late. He knew they were not on the roster of marchers. He knew they must be on their way to a big city. But he seized the moment without a twinge of conscience. And how do you stop a group of bagpipes? There is a reason the Scots regiments were famous in the British Empire’s armies.

So the Marshall nodded and in his dignified way waved them in to the parade well ahead of the horses. The parade marched down Main Street and around the green and the people cheered and raced behind the parade route to see them march all over again and again. The Great Highland Bagpipe Band was a little surprised that the parade march had gone by so fast but when it was over they were surrounded by a cheering crowd. Their admirers pulled them into Zollingers’ Hotel and bought them round after round of drinks. By the time the pipers learned of their mistake they had made fast friends among the veterans and firemen and citizens of South Dayton. They never made it to Warren PA. They didn’t care.

The Great Highland Bagpipe Band came down from Canada for many years. It came every Memorial Day all the way down from St Catherine’s Ontario. Dad loved it. If he wasn’t speaking somewhere, or if the parade times allowed, he would drive over to watch the parade and then drink beer with his new friends and old at Zollinger’s Hotel.

I hear there might be a pig roast this year here in Forestville after the Memorial Day Parade. If I learn any more I will tell you. But I am pretty sure there will be hot dogs down at the Legion. Just make sure your kids are respectful during the speech and ceremony. By the way, welcome to the village!