If you’re in Alameda today, chances are you’re either watching or participating in the Mayor’s 4th of July Parade. When someone moves to the island, I think Marie Gilmore makes them take an oath to do one or the other. It’s your civic duty.
According to the official parade website, ours is the second longest and second largest 4th of July parade in the nation. (They don’t say whose is longer and larger. And we don’t need to know because size doesn’t matter, right? That’s what all the fellows say…)
But be proud that ours is long indeed. If it’s a warm day and you’re not under a tree or umbrella, it can seem like the line of floats, bands and characters goes on forever. But there’s no such thing as too long for me. The parade is our town – diverse, quirky, campy, and a head trip back in time.
So for you early morning readers, I want to list a few of my favorite entrants. And if the parade passed you by, here’s some of what you missed:
- #4 Alameda Boys and Girls Club – Clap and holler for director George Phillips, who is stepping down from his post to spend more time with his grandchildren. Good for you, George, and thank you for a job well done.
- #9 Cougar Cadet Corps — Cougars? At first I thought a group of my friends entered without asking me to join them. Turns out these “cougars” are drummers. The corps started at Chipman Middle School and is now part of the Boys and Girls Club.
- #18 Baroque Horses of Northern California — OK. This one makes me sad. As a small business owner, I know from firsthand experience that this economy is tough. But I didn’t know that even the Northern California horses are baroque. (Baroque? Broke? Get it? I thought that one up all by myself. Sometimes I just crack myself up completely.)
- #32 Alameda Girls Softball Association — Fun fact: Did you know that our Bay Street neighbor, Helen Chaix, was part of the “All-American Girls Professional Baseball League” that was the basis for the 1992 movie A League of Their Own? Helen is very cool. If you don’t know her, you should. My day is not complete without a “drive-by wave” from Helen.
- #43 Trader Joe’s — Another fun fact: TJ’s came to Alameda 10 years ago. Ten years?! I am getting old. (…sigh…)
- #50 Bladium Sports Club — On Monday and Wednesday mornings I take spin class at Bladium. I am relieved that one of our fearless leaders, Michael Singman-Aste, didn’t ask me to pedal a spin bike atop a flatbed truck for several hours along the three-mile parade route. Bladium is closed for the holiday, thank God. If I am spinning today, it will be from the effects of demon rum.
- #57 Lou’s Lagoons and Dock Cleaning Services — Now how many cities have a company with that awesome moniker? Lou, may I please have a company T-shirt? Pretty please?
- #68 Pedal Beach Bike Brigade — I had no idea I could rent a bike at South Shore Center. Imagine pedaling and actually going somewhere! In spin class, I just stare out the second floor window at the USS Hornet in Seaplane Lagoon and dream big traveling daydreams. Michael says to keep our eyes on the road to watch out for potholes. (I know you’re talking to me, Michael, and believe me, there aren’t any.)
- #76 Dance/10 Performing Art Center — Pamm Drake and her dancers will be representing Alameda in London and Paris during the Summer Olympics! Truly exciting but imagining the crowds and chaos, I am glad Sarah’s performing days are over so I don’t have to chaperone.
- #89 PTWITPLY — Stands for “People-That-Weren’t-In-The-Parade-Last-Year.” Now that entry made me laugh even harder than my inspired “baroque horse” joke. At Jay’s Coffee the other day, my coffee buddies discussed the possibility of entering next year’s parade together — all us reading our favorite newspapers at our designated tables atop a flatbed while Cesar and Melinda walked along, passing out free shots of espresso. But it would never work. By 10 a.m., we are all long gone, off to our separate lives…
- #101 The Haighters — It appears that even a town as sweet as Alameda has haters. Actually, these are residents of the 300 block of Haight Avenue and are probably perfectly nice people. Hey! Maybe the neighbors on Versailles Avenue should enter next year! They could ride in a sailboat and call themselves “The Versaillers.” (You have to be an Alamedan to get that joke. It’s a pronunciation thing. If you don’t get it, ask any local to explain it for you.)
- #113 Alameda Community Radio — I tried to go to their launch meeting at the Alameda Free Library but I wrote the wrong date on my calendar and showed up a week too early. And then I never followed up. Anyone out there interested in entering next year’s parade with me as “AAWADD” – Alameda Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder? I could schedule a meeting, and then we could all forget to be there.
I apologize to the other 158 or more entrants for not including them above. (My column word limit couldn’t take it…) Each and every drummer, horse and “Haighter” has my personal gratitude for letting me watch from the relative comfort of my green camping chair, parked on the Grand Street curb.
The City of Alameda Mayor’s 4th of July Parade may not hold the #1 spot for longest or largest, but second in the nation ain’t that shabby. It’s one helluva parade, and I am one proud Alamedan.
Happy 4th to all!