Rooster and I rode in the Haynes Apperson Parade with our ABATE friends. Bikers always lead off the parade and we made a lot of noise. #Haynes Apperson #parade #festival #Marshal Tucker Band #ABATE #motorcycle #Kokomo #Indiana
The Haynes Apperson Parade
When we exited our front door the morning of July 5, it was like stepping into a steam bath. Those conditions might be good if you are a vegetable somewhere in the cooking process, but for human beings getting ready to ride in a parade the situation is miserable. The truck, which would be used to pull the trailer, was already in the church parking lot. The tarped float didn’t suffer from bad weather. Therefore, the float looked perfect to glide down the street in the Haynes Apperson Parade.
Everyone went to work placing the final touches on the parade float. The Tiny Tots motorcycle was the first thing lifted onto the trailer. It would ride high and proud supported by a bale of hay. The barriers went on next.
ABATE pride at the Haynes Apperson Parade
They needed to be manipulated by a couple of guys before they were in the perfect position to shout out to the city of Kokomo ABATE pride. Our organization’s logo was printed on both sides of the barriers. Everyone in town would know what motorcycle organization we were representing.
The kids wouldn’t get into place until the trailer was parked in the staging area. This was no balloon float flying in the Thanksgiving Day Macy’s Parade, and we weren’t a Mardi Gras Krewe, but I thought we did a good job on our Haynes-Apperson Festival float. We were ready to march. Now, all we had to do was wait.
The long wait at the parade staging area
It is not comfortable to hang out in a parade staging area on a hot July afternoon. The temperatures are generally in the nineties. The heat coming off the asphalt is so intense you can feel it burning the sole of your boots.
This year proved to be about the same as it was the year before, hot and humid. It didn’t take long for people to figure out the best place to stand is next to the tall downtown buildings which throughs off a certain amount of shade. The first hour is spent socializing with your fellow riders. You can encounter an old friend you might not have seen since last year’s parade.
There is no way to determine who will show up to participate. The way riders are recruited is always by word of mouth or a post on social media. The second half of the parade tradition is finding a way to endure the heat. However, despite the heat, these bikers ready to ride in the Haynes Apperson Parade wanted to get the show on the road.
People get quiet during the last hour. It requires too much effort to talk. Someone always brings a cooler filled refreshing ice water to drown our collective thirst. They generously share it with those of us who didn’t think ahead. The smell of sweat fills the air as we all collectively perspire under the hot sun.
After an unreasonable amount of time stuck in the holding pattern, everyone gets anxious for the parade to start. About the time we think we can’t take it anymore, our fearless leader, Lynn Anderson, calls for a riders meeting. She gives us detailed instructions on how we are to behave in front of the grandstand. The routine is the same every year.
Leading the parade
The riders in ABATE are given the honor of leading out the parade because of our one qualification. We as a group know how to make a lot of noise. Lynn instructs us to ride into the courthouse square revving our motors.
When we’re given the signal, we’re instructed to stop. We will dismount from our bikes and stand at attention during the pledge, the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner, and the Air Force flyover. We’re to remount our bikes as soon as the ceremony is finished and ride out of the square making as much noise as we possibly can without bursting our eardrums.
Lynn was afraid she would make a mistake. She was the first bike to move into position. If she screwed up, the entire parade would be a disaster. She led us with skill and precision as we moved through the streets.
Make a lot of noise
This year everything went as planned until the fire department didn’t show up to present the colors. It was mention there were enough flags on the square we could continue on with the ceremony without the aid of the fire department. Kevin Ellis grabbed the flag off the back of his bike and took it to the stage. It was a nice touch to the patriotic program.
He looked like a Civil War soldier presenting Old Glory in the heat of the battlefield. The Air Force had perfect timing with the flyover. The young lady singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” hit the final note as the plane appeared overhead in the sky. We remounted our bikes, revved our engines, and made our way down the street so the next float could pass by the grandstand.
Unloading the kids
We weren’t done yet. The float had to stop at a restaurant parking lot at the end of the Haynes Apperson Parade route to unload the children who rode on the float. Once the kids were safely in the arms of their parents, it was necessary to drive the float back to the church parking lot where it was stripped of all its finery.
The American flags and red, white, and blue decorations had to be removed before the bales of hay could be loaded into the back of the truck that pulled the float on the parade. The hay is slated to become animal feed, and the decorations will be recycled and used in 2020. There is little waste when our ABATE team decorates a float for the Haynes Apperson Paradethen. The Tiny Tots equipment was stored inside for safekeeping.
Work before the festival
Rooster and I have work to do before we can play. We both need to catch up on some writing time. I’m behind on my goal to finish Circus People before November. I need to get at least a thousand words on the page before dark.
Marshall Tucker Band
Rooster had his own stuff he needed to do. Float construction and riding in the parade took a big chunk of our weekend. We drove across town to a coffee shop where we could get a room of our own and spent a couple of hours doing what we needed to get done. We managed to finish in time to catch The Marshall Tucker Band at the Kokomo Performing Arts Pavilion.
The crowd was bigger than it had been the night before. We didn’t stay for the fireworks. There was a bed waiting for us at home. We needed to get some sleep. The one thing this adventure taught me about Rooster and myself is we are not late-night party animals at this stage of our lives. We sort of go by the early to bed early to rise concept these days. With that thought, I wish you all pleasant dreams. It’s time for me to catch some z’s.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.
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