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Flocking to the Fourth

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Well, apparently, a few of you read “The Way Out Here” and actually found your way out here over the holiday weekend. I was at the Pleasant Mount Fourth of July parade with my family on Thursday, as is custom, since my wife is normally helping with one of the 4-H floats or something similar for the parade, but this year we had the luxury of not being involved in any logistics. Mind you, I’m pretty sure Pleasant Mount has a population of about five, but if you happened to attend the parade this year, you would think it was a bustling rural metropolis.

It seems this best-kept secret of Northeastern PA hasn’t been kept all that well. About 15 minutes before the parade, cars already lined the roads wherever they could manage to squeeze at least halfway out of traffic. Hordes of folks carrying chairs and walking strollers migrated through the standstill traffic toward Main Street, where the festivities were to be held. My wife looked at me, and we quickly realized we had a problem on our hands: Where in Pleasant Mount were we going to park?

We turned down another side street hoping to find a quick out-of-the-way place to stow the car. No luck. We drove for another two miles before we reached the end of the cars parked along both sides of the road. At this point, we were nearly ready to give up and go home, but my wife knew the backroads well and we eventually found a spot. Where, you may ask? Well, you can be darn sure I’m keeping that secret, given the considerable influx of visitors.

On your average year, this parade brings in a few hundred people. It is a very nice parade, full of hometown pride, tractors, vintage cars and, of course, candy for the younger onlookers. A memorial service follows, along with a local fire station’s chicken barbeque plus community functions, such as a silent auction, book sale and 5k race to supplement the fun.

I typically make my way around to visit the neighbors and family who are regulars at the event, but, this year, it was a task to find the few I did. Perhaps a thousand or more folks were there, flooding the sides of central Main Street and spilling into local folks’ yards. In front of the fire station and in central park, it was a sea of heads.

If you can’t tell by now, I’m not a huge fan of crowds. After all, I live in the country, where if you drive at night and see more than one other car, it’s considered traffic. But don’t mind my bewilderment, it was moving to see such unexpected and overwhelming support for this small-town parade and the freedom it represents.

As for me and the family, it wasn’t so bad once we were parked. We busted out the stroller—which, we quickly learned, is not made for dirt roads—and found ourselves a spot up and away from the crowds. As we scooted down the road to get there, my son’s chubby cheeks jiggled with the bumpy terrain as he sat, comically cooing, in his seat. Upon arriving at our shady spot, he got a front-row view of all the antique tractors driving by. Grandpa found us and made sure to hold him up and educate him on the superiority of Allis Chalmers. All in all, it was a fabulous Fourth, celebrated exactly the way we do every year out here.

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