I look forward to this every year. … It’s always exciting for me. All my family is involved, and we love the bag pipes and parades. ~Jim McKenzie
Who doesn’t love a good parade? I certainly do, well maybe without some of the side effects such as traffic congestion, parking issues and herds of people milling around in a small area. Although it’s always fun to sit and watch the different floats, banners, bands and groups passing by in somewhat of a rhythm. To be honest, I love seeing what bands are attending the parade and I like checking out their fashion flares, music choices and the quality of the Colorguard. My old area of expertise!
On Saturday, we went to the annual Fort Ligonier Days Parade. We’ve been attending this event for as long as I can remember, not ritually every year, but more than not. I’ve also been taking Kyle since he was a little man sitting in my lap. Now he requires his own seat, but seems to enjoy the parade the same.
Some years Fort Ligonier Days Weekend was so cold we needed blankets, hats, gloves and long underwear when sitting there watching the parade. While, other years, it rained and yet some have been perfect fall days. This past weekend God blessed us with such superb weather! It was sunny, mild temperature, blue skies with white fluffy clouds. That made it more enjoyable. I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought so, because people came out in the masses.
Anyone who has attended the parade knows, you have to place your chairs out the night before, which we always do. Usually they are covered with trash bags to keep the rain off of them, as we did on Friday night. Leading up to the weekend, it rained and was cold and dreary, so it was a nice surprise when the sun made its way out to greet the weekend participants. Even when we were setting up our chairs, I believe go time was at 6:00 pm, it was drizzling. You see there’s a specific time chairs are permitted to stake claim to small areas of the sidewalk in Ligonier, in preparation for the next day’s parade. They don’t mess around and they mean it too!
It’s no secret I marched in the Fort Ligonier Days Parade for four years in a row during my high school days. I was never a big fan of participating in parades, probably because most of them were hot and boring, but I will admit I loved the Fort Ligonier Days parade. It was never really too warm or sunny. To be honest, I didn’t mind the cold and being in the Laurel Mountains in the fall is such a pretty time of the year. The trees show such vibrant colors everywhere, it’s like being Mary Poppins and entering your very own painting, not to mention Ligonier is so quaint and nostalgic. Who wouldn’t love spending a day in those parts of the woods?
As the parade passed us along, mom and I would make comments to Kyle like, “There goes Kyle!” as the trumpet section passed. Kyle is starting to show interest in participating in the marching band, just like I did. Well, I was part of the Colorguard and Kyle plays the trumpet, among the piano and guitar (kinda), but regardless, I have been encouraging this interest. Participating in the Colorguard, Winterguard and the Indoor Drumline gave me my fondest memories and adventures of my high school years. I really truly mean that!
Kyle’s reaction to our said comments and encouragement? He started saying, “Ya that’s hard twirling a stick!” He is such a little stinker! Razzing me like that! I made him eat his words when some of the Colorguard showed off their skills right in front of us by doing tosses, spins and such. Thank you ladies! Your timing was perfect! He was certainly amazed over West Virginia University’s Colorguard, as was I! Nice job!
I didn’t take Kyle down to the Fort this year because it was so terribly crowded and I can only handle crowds for so long, before my complete claustrophobia settles in and my patience runs low. Kyle went on a field trip to the Fort a few years ago for school, so it’s not like he was missing out on anything. I’ve been in the Fort a few times, mostly when I was a youngster with my family. I remembered me and Ryan really getting a kick out of the whole place, including those dressed up like Native Americans.
True story, dad and my cousin Merle cut down and hauled in the logs whenever they renovated the Fort years ago, long before I was around. So in a way dad helped out with rebuilding history in our very own backyard. Too cool! We’ve told Kyle that story a couple of times over the years. He loves hearing it and I know he feels the same pride as I do.
As we were sitting there watching the parade pass, it dawned on me, Hempfield Marching Band was probably among the mix. Why was that so important? Kyle’s piano teacher was student teaching at the high school and he was assisting with their marching band. As my revelation occurred to me, I mentioned it to Kyle and his face lit up! He couldn’t wait to see his teacher. And sure enough, as Hempfield passed, I looked up the street to the endless line of marching band members and I saw his teacher in full suit marching along side his students. He was on the same side as us too! What luck! I pointed him out and Kyle began waving like a little manic trying to catch his attention. Did he? You bet! David flashed Kyle an ‘I know you’ smile, which made Kyle’s day even more complete!
Obviously, there is more to Fort Ligonier Day’s besides the parade. A few years ago when we were walking around another perfect day at the Fort Ligonier festivities, Kyle and I stumbled upon a huge, almost life size chess set, set-up outside one of the toy stores in town. At that point, Kyle had already fell in love with the thought provoking and strategic game. Naturally, he kicked my butt.
As I’ve always said, Kyle remembers EVERYTHING. On Kyle’s agenda this year? Yes you guessed it, the giant chess set! He even did a little recon mission while using the restroom facilities during the parade to find exactly where the chess set was located. That kid cracks me up! Did we play a mean game of chess? Nope! There were others playing at the time of our arrival, not having any patience, I didn’t want to wait for the girls to complete their game. Kyle was miffed. It brought on the whines and the pouting. I guess I really moved his cheese, but mom was waiting for us and I didn’t want her sitting there all day. How did I make up for this disappointment? I promised to play him chess at home. He told me, “I can’t wait to tell you checkmate!” Told you, he’s such a stinker! And he did!
The only part of the tradition that did not make it into the day was the kettle corn. Yes, we always manage to get a large bag of homemade kettle corn for the road. This year, we truly couldn’t find the kettle corn stand among the crowds of warm bodies. I also really didn’t feel like squeezing through people with a whinny disappointed kid. So no kettle corn, but we certainly survived.
While hauling around our stuff, I couldn’t help but reflect on Kyle’s book. Yes, Kyle made haste and was using his time wisely before the parade with a good book, as was I. His chosen reading material? The second book in the Divergent series, Insurgent by Veronica Roth. Mine? Lord of the Rings The Two Towers. I already read both of the Divergent books and on another side note, I seriously can’t wait for the third and final installment, Allegiant. Same goes for Kyle!
I remember years ago, when I was completely addicted to the Twilight books I was reading New Moon and I truly didn’t want to put it down, not even for the parade. While sitting there some lady turned to me and said, “Wow, you are really into that book! It must be really good?” It was! I could have continued with my face in the pages until completion if I didn’t have a little man sitting in my lap telling me different. Now he was in the same boat I was in, totally addicted to the words on the pages. That’s the chip off the old block!
Yep, it’s funny how one parade has such great memories and continues to build upon those year after year. I do enjoy walking around and seeing all the crafts and art and such. I mean Kyle even chose to go to the Fort Ligonier Days Parade instead of waiting for Game Stop to open to get his pre-ordered Pokemon video game. Good choice buddy!
Can’t wait for next year!
On a side note, I totally forgot my trusty phone during the parade. Yep, therefore I got no pics or video. Total bummer! Kind of out of my nature, yet, totally something I would do, and did!