As I sat on a sidewalk on Saturday watching our local parade go by which put a cap on a week-long northern lower Michigan festival, I made several observations and realized how grateful I was.

I was grateful for the great weather.

I was grateful we even HAD a parade after it was cancelled for the last two years because of Covid. Don’t even get me started about why people would cancel an outdoor parade.

I was grateful for the current military members and veterans who went by and all the American flags that I saw in the parade and in the hands of the spectators.

I was grateful that I only saw one mask in the entire crowd. That means that people are back to living their lives again.

I was also entertained watching our parade “neighbors,” a couple in their ’80’s, getting into the swing of things, collecting the freebies being handed out. The folks in the parade were handing out (and throwing) stickers, candy (lots of Dum Dums), beach balls, beads and all kinds of things. 

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I don’t mind admitting that my hands are always out and I’m always in front begging for Jolly Ranchers and keychains and I also don’t mind chasing down a six-year-old for a Koozie from her dad’s septic tank company.

Our 80-year-old neighbor woman decided that she needed candy too – and a red, white and blue pinwheel. She started putting out her hands for any candy or treats going by and her husband was getting up and down out of his folding chair to chase down goodies that got away. They were acting like kids, just like me, and having fun.

But as fun as the parade was, I did have a fleeting moment where I thought about the people in Highland Park and how they were enjoying the parade like I was. How sad and tragic it was for an evil person to ruin that for all of them. I looked around where I was sitting, on the look-out for anyone that seemed “out of place” but didn’t see anything suspicious. 

It’s sad that we have to think like that now. But, like I said, it was only a fleeting moment. I wasn’t stuck in that mindset for more than a minute or two. It was a quick “see something, say something” moment and not a deep-seated fear that the evil people put in me to be afraid when I go out in public. I’m just more alert now. 

Evil people can’t win. They shouldn’t be allowed to take away our freedoms and pursuit of happiness.

What I saw during the parade was flags and clapping and singing and having fun – and people standing up when flags and the military went by. 

I saw America again after two years of COVID-19 tyranny. 

It was the second Independence Day I celebrated last week.