Monday, July 8, 2013

Giving up the 4th

For 33 years, I celebrated 4th of July with the rest of the nation. It usually included a barbecue, a trip downtown to the parade, and a visit to the fireworks show. Sometimes, I went to the lake, a river, a campground, but always I was surrounded with family and friends.

That all changed five years ago when I was put "in charge of 4th of July." Of course, that's not exactly the case but I am the organizer for our community's local Independence Day celebrations. It sounds a little pretentious to say I'm in charge of 4th of July and when I made that comment the other day, I didn't say it for kudos or because I think I'm important. It's because I take my job seriously. I really do feel responsible for how well (or poorly) the events turn out.

I don't want kudos....those should be reserved for my volunteers who spend hours upon hours leading up to the event planning and organizing (and dealing with me). They call businesses for donations to be turned down 9 times out of 10. They call organizations to ask if they'll be in the parade. They call in favors from other business associates. They meet with me in the evening, they meet with me at lunchtime. 

Then these dedicated volunteers miss Independence Day with their families to show up early, work all day, deal with some of the public who are grumpy and sometimes rude. While their families are at home or at the lake, they're in the park with me. 

They work in the heat from sun up to well past sundown. They put up tents, haul our vendors tables and supplies to and fro, help lost kids find their parents, and pick up trash that didn't quite make it in the trash can. 

They survive sunburns, brave dehydration, and wear out their feet to make sure our community can celebrate in the best possible way. 

They act professionally and respectfully when they're yelled at by the guy who is mad he has to park two blocks down. When a vendor is grumpy because they don't like their spot and they call my volunteer a name (or two), my volunteers stay calm, cool, and collected. 

When someone complains the parade is too late, or too early, or that it's too hot or that they don't like this or that, they listen. 

These are my heroes. They deserve the kudos. 

And I ask that next time you're at an event, take time (even if it's after) to thank those who helped pull it together. It's a big task! 

So now that I've got that out, let me share a few photos from our Independence Day Jamboree and Parade. 

Debbie and Tori start out at 6:30 a.m. putting up caution tape downtown, they won't finish their day until after midnight

Jacob and his mom Holly meet us bright and early to hang flags on Main Street

Our pyro guys set up a spectacular fireworks show! 

The parade kicks off the event and many organizations put hours into their floats

Our theme this year was 4th on the Farm....lots of tractors and patriotism

With heat in the 90s, Roe Outfitters sprayed parade-goers with water guns! A welcome relief from the heat

Look closely and you'll see my cute little Nate waiving at me in an orange t-shirt. 

Even Marc and his girlfriend helped out. Marc hung flags in the morning, kept people out of the fireworks fly zone, and did whatever else I needed

Our event was featured in a magazine. That cute kid eating a snowcone is my Nate. The fireworks photo was taken by my friend Scott Brainard. 

I'm worn out, exhausted, but overall pleased with how the event went. I have a year to recuperate! 

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