Red, White and Amused
CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - After many years of photographing the Carmichael Elks July 4 Parade, this reporter this year chose to bicycle the procession route. I could surely trick out my bike in a couple of hours like the gung-ho teenager in the YouTube tutorial.
On July 3, I bought crepe paper, glue gun, wee flags etc. Well, the decor project took me all day and till 3 am, July 4. I was exhausted even before I reached the marshalling ground.
As I had to photograph the pageant, I shouldered my camera bag. I planned to stop here and there on the two-mile route to do pictures. Among 90 parade units I was an unregistered tag-along. Though no one expected me, I was welcomed with whistles and holiday goodwill. However, a mustachioed Keystone Kop did ticket me for “impersonating a pedestrian.” He fined me one hug.
I guess decorating a bike for a parade was once a rite of passage for American kids. These days, they have iPhones instead. On that day, nobody but this immigrant (of a certain age) bestrode such a chariot of Americana. I was a bigger novelty than the pirate galleon’s simpering mermaids.
Along the route, neighbors waved in wonderment; children yelled “I want that bike” and whenever I stopped, people demanded selfies with my patriotic pedaler. The velocipede soon took on a life of its own.
Having too much fun, I circled back behind the Congressman (he called: “Susan, is that you?” in astonishment) and I rode the slow-moving pageant several times. What a ham.
Mark Twain suggested everyone should ride a bicycle: “You will not regret it,” he said. “If you live.”
When I at last reached Carmichael Elks, I handed my camera to friend Betty and told her to snap me waving like Princess Charlotte. I pedaled past a vintage milk truck and wielded one last salute. The treacherous handlebars turned on me. Bike and I toppled into the gutter. Oooh, cried the crowd. Ouch, cried I. Grazes everywhere. We won’t publish that picture.
I rode home with a skewed mudguard squeaking against my tire. On California Avenue, a man in a wife-beater tee-shirt looked up from his barbecue and hollered: “Hell, yeah!”
Bruises and all, I won't regret my ride in the 2019 parade. If I live, that is.