No doubt about it, Madeira loves a parade

By Regina Villiers.  Originally published June 30, 1993 in the Suburban Life, added June 14, 2017.

I love a parade.  I may as well admit that up front and get it over with.  No matter how old I get, I’m always reminded by a parade that I haven’t grown up yet.

My love affair with marching, floats and people began after I moved to Madeira, for when it comes to parades, Madeira knows how to stage them.  If “Oscars” were given for parades, as in the movie industry, I’m sure Madeira would win, floats down.

The tops in Madeira parades just about has to be the Fourth of July extravaganzas.  Other parades are fine, but for Independence Day, Madeira gets down and boogies.

For one thing, Fourth of July parades are long.  They seem to go on forever, and with all the people marching in them, you’d think no one would be left to watch, especially kids.

All the kids’ groups march – the Scouts, the Brownies, and the Little League teams.  The bands and the drill teams from the schools march.  Even kids who aren’t involved in anything march.  They decorate their bikes and get into the act.

And there are enough fire engines to smother the great Chicago fire.  There are specialty acts and clowns to entertain the crowds, and the floats just keep on coming.  It seems endless.

The Madeira Recreation Committee now produces the Fourth of July parades, but for many years, they were staged by Mike and Mary Jo Morgan through the American Legion.  The Morgan’s also masterminded the Memorial Day parades.

Finally, Mike and Mary Jo decided to hang it up with parades.  In 1984, they were put on the receiving end and made the grand marshals.  “It was such a thrill and so much fun to be up there waving to everybody,” Mary Jo said.  “I just couldn’t believe it.”

The highlight, says Mary Jo, was Oscar Meyer astride his horse, riding along the parade route.

Another name from bygone parades is Mary Jane Bradshaw.  She co-chaired many parades with the Morgans.

In 1980, Mary Jane and Mary Jo co-chaired a memorable Memorial Day parade, which was preceded by Flag Week in Madeira.  All businesses flew the flag for a full week preceding the parade.

There was a flag relay run.  Runners carried the flag and passed it through every street in Madeira.

Fourth of July parades in Madeira are a true celebration. They are demonstrations of community pride, both by the participants and by the watchers.

And parades aren’t just watched in Madeira.  They’re experienced.  Friends and neighbors gather along the parade route, usually at the same spots, parade after parade, year after year, to watch together.

For years, I’ve watched with the Gallensteins on Miami Avenue, up from Wesley Court.  I watched the Gallenstein kids grow up watching parades.  Now, they bring their own kids home to watch the parades from the same spot, at “Omah and Opah’s” house.

From my perch on the Gallenstein wall, I sit and watch my town go by.  From members of the school board, the mayor and business people about town, to kids in the high school band, they know me.

They wave and call out.  That’s important to me.  I waive back.  It may be the only time I see some of them all year, but for a brief moment, there’s a communion of spirits.

And then there’s the candy.

At the Fourth of July parade, participants throw enough candy to watchers to cause enough cavities to make every dentist in Hamilton County warm up his drill.

Having a sweet tooth half the size of Mt. Everest, I get more than my fair share.  I become a kid again and get out there and scrap with the other kids for that candy, especially the caramels and Tootsie Rolls, ‘till my pockets bulge.

Come Friday evening, July 2, at 7p.m., I’ll be right there in my accustomed spot.  I’ll be waving, yelling and carrying on with the people in town.  It’s our regular, public love affair.

And I’ll stuff my pockets with Tootsie Rolls too.