Monday, July 4, 2011


July the 4th is a big day in America and over the past several years I have enjoyed going to the annual parade at Manchester-by-the-sea - the nearest town that hosts one each year.  You have to get there about an hour or two before the parade starts and the spectators are often dressed in red, white and blue.

This first photograph is from 2008.  A collage of people waiting for the parade to start (including Anne - top left).  It rained and was unseasonably cold that day.   Usually the 4th is hot and humid here.
The parades are a big deal for children and in our town they always look and feel like the quaint parades depicted in American movies that I saw growing up in South Africa.

The minutemen have been a regular feature of the parade and my challenge each year is to try to take a photograph of them as they fire their muskets.

The minutemen are not always happy to be photographed.  In 2009 I took this photograph and was surprised afterwards to see the rather wary expression of one of the soldiers. Perhaps I was just a little too enthusiastic for him?

The parade usually starts with old cars followed by old and new ambulances with their sirens blaring.  A good number of old bicycles also make up a popular part of the parade - my favorite being the penny farthing (which may be called a high-wheeler in America).

Some years we have had real marching bands from colleges or high schools outside of the area who come to be part of the parade.  I imagine that it is expensive to bring bands in for these parades.  They are very polished and I have enjoyed the occasional interaction with them as they come past.  Last year was very hot but this band member was having a blast!

Veterans and active soldiers are a feature of the parades as well.  This is from the 2011 parade and is a Vietnam Veteran being driven by a soldier who has served in Iraq.

The minutemen were on parade again this year and although I didn't get a good shot of them firing their muskets, I had my wide angle lens with me and got some interesting angles on the drummers.

The rag-tag minutemen are also used during Patriot football games - they fire off their muskets after every touchdown.

One of the colorful characters in the town parade (at least on the periphery of the parade) is Uncle Sam, who hosts a breakfast at his home along the parade route.

The bands are also sometimes somewhat more ad-hoc.  There are brass bands and Dixie bands from the area and sometimes reggae and Jamaican Steel drum bands who bring their music to the parade.

...and each year we have the pipers who come with their haunting music.

The  more recent musical styles are also represented - belting out from the the back of flat-bed trucks.

Today was another great parade day.

Happy Independence Day.