Downtown Shelby Parades
Whether it be the Fourth of July parade, the Bicycle Days parade, the Homecoming Parade, Memorial Day Parade, or the Halloween Parade, we always had great parades - at least they were great as seen through the eyes of an innocent child.
The Memorial Day Parade always passed through downtown Shelby and came down Gamble Street near our house on its way to the large cemetery there. People would get set up on the street's edge early and put out their folding lawn chairs to get an up-close-and-personal vantage point as the soldiers and veterans marched by.
This was in the early 1970s and the Vietnam War was still going on. But as seen from the innocent eyes and pure mind of a 6 year old boy it was something really special, not anything political, but real soldiers carrying what seemed to be real rifles, marching in perfect lockstep.
A year or two later I actually was part of the parade with my Cub Scout Troop. One year we marched in our uniform and another year we rode in the back of our Troop leader's pickup truck. We were all so proud to be seen by the whole city... errr.. town of Shelby. And while I don't remember specifically, I'm sure we each had our little American flag to wave alone the route. And since the cemetery was somewhat close to our hour I could walk home afterwards, accompanied by my mother, father, and sister.
But year after year, there were always veterans from the FIRST world war. And then, naturally, every subsequent year there were fewer and fewer until only one remained. He was driven slowly along the parade route with a large sign on the side of his chauffeured Cadillac and sponsored by the local dealership.
The High School, Junior High School (now called "Middle School"), and even elementary school bands marched the long parade distance from end to end, playing military or otherwise patriotic tunes. Later in life I too was part of this Shelby marching band, having played trombone from 6th grade through 10th grade.
The Halloween parades were always a lot of fun. I don't think Shelby has these anymore. They took place after dark and would pass down Main Street as all the Shelby Parades did. The people on the elaborately designed and decorated flatbed trucks or wagons would toss Halloween candy to the kids seated on the curbs along the street.
I even participated in several of the Bicycle Days parades. This was a summer parade and always under the baking hot sun. We would spend hours washing, maybe waxing, and decorating our little Coaster Bikes (as bicycles were called which did not have gears or hand breaks) with streamers, noise makers, and whatever we had, and would ride ever so slowly through downtown Shelby. It's rather difficult to ride a bicycle slowly, don'tchaknow! Sometimes we'd ride around in circles and sometimes we have a slow collision with the bike rider near us. But we were kids and it didn't matter. Surely we were threatened with sunstroke but no one worried about these things back then.
The Homecoming Parade was a real oddity for me - and one of the shortest parades you'd see. Not only would you see the Homecoming King and the Homecoming Queen and their court on the back of a flatbed truck or trailer, but also truckloads of proud football players wearing their football jerseys, cheerleaders, boosters, and also the obligatory "support vehicles" advertising their shop or service, all decorated with Red and Grey colors and Shelby Whippet art.
Small town parades are always so joyful and the participants and spectators are so full of civic pride. As seen from the eyes of a child, there's almost nothing better - except for attending his first Friday night Varsity Football Game under the lights at historic W.W. Skiles Field. Now THAT'S something special - but that's for another blog entry.