The Charade of a Parade
I don’t like parades, even in good weather; they make me uncomfortable and antsy. I know that most everybody would consider such a viewpoint perverse, cynical, unpatriotic, and maybe even sacrilegious. I have never, ever heard anyone express this sentiment. I just don’t enjoy standing around as a spectator watching hordes of people dressed in bizarre outfits goose-stepping in unison in front of and behind large moving barges, while deafening drumbeats assault my senses. Cringing from high pitched screeching and yelling, mostly from unidentifiable sources and constantly looking for my lost children is not my idea of a great time.
A parade is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as a procession of costumed people, accompanied by marching bands, floats, and sometimes large balloons, usually organized along a street. They are most often celebrations, although protest demonstrations can also take the form of a parade, but in such cases are usually referred to as a march instead.
The first floats were simply barges that held stationary mannequins and colorful decorations which were towed along canals with ropes held by parade marchers on the shoreline. They were occasionally propelled from within by concealed oarsmen, but the practice was abandoned because of the high incidence of drowning when the lightweight and unstable frames capsized. Today, motor vehicles pull the floats.
The Marksmen’s Parade is the longest parade in the world and takes place in Germany every year during the Shutzenfest. The parade is 12 kilometers long with more than 12,000 participants from all over the world, featuring 100 bands and around 70 floats and carriages. To me, this is a truly frightening specter. However, the creation of “victory parades" to mark the end of hostilities in Europe in 1944-1945 throughout the recently liberated territories is not a frightening concept at all.
I am expressing s the idea that large groups of people massed together, carried away emotionally by certain ideas, may not always be uplifting and idealistic. Throughout history, extreme nationalism has, at times, resulted in negative group-think which has had disastrous effects. To me, parades in general, retain a scintilla of this ideology. Passion in numbers can go awry.
So, at the risk of whining about this popular worldwide phenomenon of parades and processions, and being the ultimate misanthrope, I maintain that I am not a lone voice expressing my discomfort with parades. Do I stand alone?