I’ve never liked the fourth of July. When I was little it was because I was afraid that the house would catch on fire from stray fireworks. Now I dislike it for different reasons—I think Robinson Jeffers, in his poem “July Fourth by the Ocean” makes an eloquent statement about it: “Therefore we happy masters about the solstice/light bonfires on the shore and celebrate our power.” In any case, we usually try to avoid any kind of July fourth activities not only because of feelings about it, but because there are just so many damned people around.
On the morning of July fourth this year, I thought it would be fun to hike into the next town which we had seen on a previous day’s drive. Yachats is an adorable little seaside town complete with picturesque houses with huge windows looking out to the water, welcoming small shops and cafes, and long stretches of sand walled in by stony cliffs. It bills itself as “the gem of the Oregon Coast,” and if you like the fourth of July, I can imagine that you would agree.
We approached the town from the beach and we could immediately see that the small street that runs along the coast was decorated vehemently with all things red, white, and blue. All of the houses had garish displays of flags, banners, streamers, and pinwheels. People were lining the street sitting in their portable camp chairs waiting for something to happen.
According to the Yachats website, the fourth of July parade takes place every year at 12:00. It also states that anyone in town who wants to participate is allowed to, but I’m betting this isn’t the case. Yachats is a town of about 600 people. If everyone is in the parade, who is going to watch it? I imagine tense city meetings in which these decisions are made. “I’m sorry, Herb, I really am, but there are just too many other entrants who want to walk down the street waving a flag. You’ll have to try again next year. And Agnes, I know you wanted to be a part of the umbrella drill team, but your ability to synchronize with the other umbrellas has really suffered since that goat kicked you in the head.”
By the way, I am not making up the existence of the umbrella drill team. They all carry clear plastic umbrellas with tentacles hanging from them to look like jellyfish. What this, belly dancers, or miniature goats has to do with the fourth of July, I have not a clue, but the residents of Yachats did not seem to mind.
We watched the proceedings from a pub close to the parade route where residents had gathered for a pre-parade drink and then spilled out into the street to cheer on the parade participants. Since the parade had taken us by surprise, we had to be content with catching glimpses of it while we ate our lunch in the otherwise empty pub.
As I munched on my lackluster BLT and limp fries, I wondered what I would be doing today if I were a resident of Yachats. Certainly not going to the parade. I mean, miniature goats are fun and all, but parades seem so silly to me. For the most part they’re just a bunch of people packed into trucks waving or high school bands wailing an off-key version of “Louie Louie.” If you’re going to show me something I’ve never seen before, like a 50 foot brontosaurus made of white chocolate and carnations, well, maybe I’ll bite. But I don’t think that I would purposely mark my calendar to see the people from the local hardware store marching down the street with patriotic shovels.
What I was waiting to see were the spurned Herb and Agnes protesting their removal from the parade by running down the parade route naked yelling obscenities at the shocked crowd. That would have made a good parade. But since that didn’t happen, we finished our lunch and hiked back up the hill watching the red, white, and blue fade into the distance.