Sunday, July 29, 2012

Portland parades: A place for "The Airing of Grievances"

Summer season is parade season. Throughout the U.S., cities, towns, and even neighborhoods hold a huge array of parades that celebrate all the things that make our country and our communities great.

Growing up in the Midwest, parades were a chance for kids to decorate their bikes.  The Boy Scouts would form the color guard. Local baseball, softball, and soccer teams would don their uniforms and join the parade. The high school marching band would dust off their instruments and play some Sousa marches.

In Portland, things are ... well ... different.

In Portland we don't have color guards, we shun the Boy Scouts, and the our high schools don't seem to have marching bands.

Yesterday, I got to see Portland's Division-Clinton Street Fair Parade and it highlights what makes Portland Portland and demonstrates why Portlandia is more documentary than sketch comedy.

Things begin like any regular parade. Members of the business association carry the banner leading the parade.

Next comes the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers.  Not exactly the drum corp you'd see in the Midwest, but they are darn good and can get the crowd going.

Up next is a hint of things to come. Some jubilant parents urging residents to vote for a new tax that is supposed to pay for more art and music teachers. Gold star goes to anyone who sees the word "tax" anywhere.

Now this is what a Portland parade is all about. Anywhere in the country, we'd be celebrating how great and special our communities are.

In Portland, it's much like the Festivus practice known as the "The Airing of Grievances."

The first grievance involves yet another apartment complex being built that has absolutely no parking spaces in the complex. None. Zilch. Zero. Homeowners in the neighborhood are worried that will bring 80 new cars looking to park in front of their houses.

The second grievance involves the movement of coal from Montana to Oregon's sea ports.  Portlanders hate coal.  A lot.  They hate coal so much that they don't even want trains carrying coal to go along the railroad tracks running through the city.

Apparently a stuffed animal duck is the mascot for the anti-coal coalition.

This is City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.  She's in the parade just about every year.  Thanks for coming, Amanda!

A new charter school!  That's what makes America great!

We're close to the end here with the folks who show up every Saturday night to see and participate in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

With a small nod to Norma Rockwell, we end the parade with a firetruck.

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