Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hometown Parade With Grandson is the Best

This column originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on Monday, November 5, 2012.


By Bill Gouveia
If you ever find yourself getting a bit jaded or wondering what life is supposed to be all about, take your grandson to a parade in your hometown. It works wonders in adjusting your attitude.

Recently my wife and I got to take my 4-year-old grandson (did I mention his name is William?) to the Halloween parade in Norton. I am generally not a big parade person, but when you have grandchildren you do these things. So just before noon that Sunday I was in the parking lot of the Chartley Post Office on Route 123 with a very excited child.

Young Will was in full costume, dressed as Wolverine. For those not familiar with Wolverine, this is a character with large yellow muscles, a black and yellow mask, and long claws. My grandson was quick to explain to me that Wolverine is “a good guy”. I was relieved to find out I was not consorting with criminals.

We were a bit early, and I wondered how we were going to keep Will occupied. That turned out to be no problem. Parked next to us was Captain America and The Incredible Hulk, both close to his age. They quickly became friends, running around saving the world and each other as only kids can.

We also met their very nice parents and grandmother. After talking to them a bit, we discovered the mom had gone to Norton High with our youngest son Nate. Then just to drive the “it’s a small world” theme home even further, we found out the grandmother’s brother had gone to Norton High with my younger brother. It was a strange kind of Norton High reunion.

The parade started, and Wolverine and his buddies raced to the sidewalk to see what was coming. They were excited when the police officers and firefighters came by with sirens blaring (though Wolverine was seen covering his ears - even superheroes have their vulnerabilities). They were even more excited when candy began being tossed out of the vehicles, and they began filling their bags and containers.

They enjoyed the bagpipes, and loved the floats full of kids waving and tossing them more treats. I had forgotten just how amazed little kids can be by the simplest things, and it brought me back to a simpler time and place.

For Grandpa, it was a lot of fun. I teased old friend and Town Crier Butch Rich as he led the procession yelling “The parade is coming” – like we were going to miss it somehow. I knew so many of the local police officers and firefighters, as well the local businesspeople sponsoring the floats.

Then came the Board of Selectmen, who I had written about in a satirical manner recently. I’m not sure, but I think they noticed. While tossing candy gently to children along the route, they saw me and began firing candy firmly AT me. It was all in good-natured fun, and I laughed along with them.

Afterwards, as I dried out and prepared for a day of football, I reflected on the big event. I realized my grandson had sat on the side of the same streets where I perched as a kid, watching a local parade go by. I thought about how not every family gets to share these important moments, with our society being so much more mobile and wide-spread these days.

My mind flashed back to a Christmas party held at my house back in mid-90’s when I was a selectman. I remember standing in the kitchen with my son Aaron (Will’s dad) and Fire Chief George Burgess and Police Chief Ben Keene. We were swapping stories, and then Chief Burgess stopped and talked directly to my young son.

“Someday you’re going to be standing around, telling stories about listening to the old fire chief and old police chief in Norton,” he boomed in that unique and full voice. And he was right – but don’t ever tell him I said that. He'd enjoy it way too much.

There really is nothing like a hometown parade to make your weekend – especially when you still live in that hometown. And grandchildren make it all even better.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at aninsidelook@aol.com and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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