It was always my favorite holiday.
Sure, Christmas meant presents – army men and race cars from my parents – underwear from grandma and grandpa. Easter meant egg hunts and Halloween brought candy but the Fourth of July meant a family reunion at the most prized location in town.
Grandma and Grandpa Hook, you see, lived one block off Logan, Iowa’s famed Fourth of July parade route. A quick dart down the alley with a glance at inmates gazing out of the bars of the county jail and we were at “our spot,” right on the curb, by the lamp post where my dad would take my hand or place me upon his shoulders to see the floats and bands march by.
Each float would represent a local business and each car a hopeful politician. All would be bantered in red, white and blue and each would seemingly strive to out do the previous with candy thrown across the pavement.
A carnival would anchor the parade, covering the acres of a well-groomed city park. There barkers would call out as you walked by, my pockets jingling with the quarters I had saved in hopes of knocking down bowling pins or wrapping rings on pop bottles. There was the House of Horrors and the Tilt-A-Whirl, the Ferris Wheel and Carousel and always, and I mean always, one tent near the back where the bearded lady or two-headed calf would astound and amaze.
By mid-day it was back to the grandparents for burgers and dogs, beans and potato salad before we were off again with me donning my little league uniform for a baseball battle with our arch rivals.
As day moved to evening, fireworks would dance in the darkened sky as car horns were honked in appreciation to the annual tradition.
Today, years removed from the places of my youth, memories are rekindled with each boom from above as colors paint the sky. My family is long gone – my father passing shortly after those memories were made; my mother joining him after a long battle with alzheimers.
Yet I wonder, can we make memories for generations to come?
I’ve always been surprised how few celebrations Bartlett offers – not that it’s the city’s responsibility to entertain its residents. But outside of the Farmer’s Market, the Christmas Parade, a smallish annual festival and the recently introduced summer film series, Bartlett is surprisingly limited.
And Bartlett has so much to showcase, it’s unfortunate it doesn’t find additional opportunities to bring people back home. The city is home to an extraordinary park system with green spaces well maintained and attractive. Neighborhoods are well kept, law enforcement and emergency services are second to none. Creating additional festivals will showcase all of this and drive an economy that, despite coastal recovery, is still struggling in the mid-south.
I would love to see a Fourth of July Parade replete with bands and floats, politicians and Shriners. I would love to see a carnival with barkers calling for our coins. I would love to see children propped upon their father’s shoulders, eyes big as candy is strewn across the pavement.
I would love to see memories made here in one of Memphis’s best kept communities. How about you?