I Love a Parade
Fairview Heights Woman's Club Memory
When I was a kid in Fairview – I mean OLD Fairview, there was nothin’ to do…I mean nothin’! Oh, there was the Fairview Fireman picnic. That was grand, but if you wanted to see a parade, you had to go to Belleville. Belleville, it seemed, had a parade every other month: for Veterans’ Day, Labor Day, End of the School Picnic, Ainad Shrine, Football Homecoming, and the granddaddy of them all – the Santa Parade.
Yes, Belleville was the Parade Town! I really loved the Homecoming Parades. The Belleville Township High School and Black Knights Marching Bands tore up the streets with their music. But my favorite part was when the classic Cadillac Convertibles came rolling past with the Homecoming Queen and her court. The young ladies were so beautiful in their long formals, beehive hair, and long white gloves. The Queen, with her sparkling diamond encrusted crown, was perched on the top of the backseat. She smiled and waved the queenly wave and blew kisses as the parade slowly passed me by.
Oh, how I longed to be the queen!
Unfortunately, in my four years at the Academy of Notre Dame nor my time at Belleville Junior College was I never chosen to be queen. (Sigh)
Well, I got married, had children, finished my education degree, and started teaching. No time for regrets...and put my childish dreams to rest.
Then, in 1975, I joined the Fairview Heights Woman’s Club. And, before long, I was on committees, baked cakes, dressed up for Halloween meetings, and even held offices.
One of the biggest changes in Fairview, after the Heights was added to our name, was the start of the annual Homecoming Picnic with our own hometown parade. Well, the FHWC took to that like bees to honey! Year after year our club won award after award for their floats. And, yes, I was there to stuff massive amounts of colored tissue paper into yards upon yards of chicken wire.
Well, in 1983, we didn’t know how we were going top ourselves from the previous year. Our Homecoming Float Committee bantered many ideas about, until they decided to make use of the flags our club had recently donated to the city. The 13 flags represented the 13 original flags of the USA. Some smart person figured out a way to display the flags in a horseshoe shaped harness around the back of a flatbed. Bales of chicken wire from years passed were rolled out, stapled onto the flatbed, and the tissue brigade was once again on duty. We had almost finished the float when Florence Baricevic yelled out, "The bunting! We forgot the bunting!" It was too late to go the store, so Florence decided to take some old white sheets and dye them red! A good idea...gone bad when they came out looking like bloody bandages from the Civil War! We were all so hot and tired all we could do was laugh and laugh – something we did a lot in the Fairview Heights Woman’s Club.
The next day, the red bunting was secured and Hazel Baker came up to me and said that they all agreed that I should be Betsy Ross in the parade. They had a cute red-checkered dress and smart-looking white dust cap for me to wear.
I had assumed that I would be marching with the other women. So, you can imagine my surprise when I arrived at the starting gate I found out that I was to sit on a rocking chair atop the float with the US flag on my lap. As the parade started, I waved my queenly wave and blew kisses to the on-lookers. The topper was that our float won first place that year!
I have come to learn over the years that our dearest wishes DO come true...
just at a different time, a different place, and different sort of crowning glory.