We live in a world where certain things naturally tend to evolve towards advancements and growth. Bigger and bolder is better…right? We like to think that progress means improvement, but we must recognize that isn’t always the case. Sometimes simple is far more grand.
I was reminded of that fact quite clearly during my 4th of July experience. I traveled from Los Angeles (the biggest city within the biggest state in America — which is undergoing big budget debt problem) to spend the summer in Iowa (a relatively small state with a big budget surplus). My mission was to volunteer for part of the time on an organic farm, which is by all accounts a rather small scale operation, compared to the big agricultural operations surrounding it. But that juxtaposition is another story…
I arrived a few days before the fourth, and was urged to attend a parade that my cousin Mike and his father Roger helped create with some friends in 2002. It takes place in a very small town out in the middle of the countryside, called Sharon Center. The parade started out as a bit of a joke between a few farmers. While the “bigger” towns and cities had developed lengthy parades, they thought it would be funny to put together one of their own. They had the idea of merely driving a few tractors along the road from one farmer’s place toward a community center about half a mile away. They thought their families could sit on lawn chairs as their audience to wave them on, and they would end the parade with a potluck lunch. Something altogether simple by design.
The nickname of this new Sharon Center Parade thus became “The Littlest Parade and the Biggest Potluck” — because they wanted to have lots and lots of food to share afterwards. They contacted a few other people from the surrounding area to see if they were interesting in joining their little endeavor, and sure enough it caught on and became something much more than a joke. It became a reason for the rural community to gather and celebrate; almost like a family reunion.
|Roger, parade co-founder|
Afterwards, there was a potluck, held under a large white tent. Everyone it appeared had contributed a dish or two and everyone had their fill of delicious, mostly home-cooked food as they mingled as a community united.
As bragging rights go, it may not have been the littlest parade or the biggest potluck in the world, but it was a most splendid way to spend Independence Day and experience some of life’s simple little pleasures.
|Mom (to the left of my empty chair) and other parade watchers|
|Very cute way to display pride for your grandchildren|
|Yup, a riding lawn mower flanked by kids on scooter|
|Indeed it does (as long as we stop killing off bees with GMOs and treat cows well)|
|No Iowa parade is complete without Shriners on 3-Wheelers!|
|My little pony|
|A community band|
|That's a classic|
|The line for potluck|
|And inside, lots of food awaits|