We have been work camping in Fernley for almost a month now. We like it; the work can be hard and the pay is certainly not like working for a Fortune 500 Company, but it pays the bills and leaves us time to explore new places and things. The weather has been hot, but clouds rolling in threaten to cool it down with some rain.
The town of Fernley has a 4th of July parade and a carnival of sorts every year. This year they were offering hot air balloon rides in the morning. Natalie is especially excited because that is an item on her bucket list. So we got up at 6 AM and got Starbucks to prepare for the experience of being lifted off the ground by air that is slightly less dense than the surrounding air.
Apparently Natalie is not the only one with a bucket list, there were quite a few people waiting for their chance to stand in a basket over Fernley. The crew was still setting up the balloon when we showed up and we were 30th in line.
At first we waited with excitement and anticipation; the excitement started to falter when we noticed they were having trouble inflating the balloon. Apparently hot air balloons have one great weakness and that is anything over “no wind at all”. The crew informed us that the wind was supposed to die down and they would wait for a while.
Unfortunately the wind did not die down and we were left with our feet on the ground. It was 8AM in the morning. We decided to find a spot for the parade. Fernley has a population of about 19,000 and it felt like at least half of them lined up on the side of the road to see the other half of the population walk down the road. What I’m getting at is the parade is kind of a big thing here.
I’m not a big parade person. They are for the most part like jewelry in my mind, expensive to put on, flashy and loud, but mostly useless. This small town version of what I am use to seeing was hard not to like. The children excited to see their friends and family get a moment of small town fame, the local boy scout troop handing everyone little American flags to wave and show their 4th of July spirit, the crowds bringing squirt guns to cool down…it all seemed part of the Norman Rockwell American thing that you’re not sure exists anymore, but when you find it, you have to smile a little bit.
The parade itself featured old cars, local cheerleaders, fire department, police department, ambulance, boy scouts, girl scout, local native American tribes, local Hispanic groups and many more. It was not all red, white and blue. It seemed to be a bit more about everyone that makes this small town work, getting their kudos and recognition for the services they do…which was great!
After the parade, we headed over to the town park where they had a little carnival set up. There was a kid area with game booths and little water park. They also had food from various vendors and trinkets to buy. We met a guy who does custom stickers who is currently working on a henlyeshappytrails.com sticker for Starbuck.
The one thing I was interested in was the watermelon eating contest. I like anything that combines “eating” and “contest” in the title. So I paid my $3 and waited for the fun. I didn’t win the contest, but enjoyed the watermelon none the less. The rain finally came that afternoon and kind of put a damper on the events a bit (I know…terrible pun). Many people stayed through it, however.
I know what this holiday represents and I know that if it weren’t for the brave men and women of the past, this town and this country wouldn’t exist as it does today. I understand the actions those people took, but I grew up in a nation that always had its independence. For me, this holiday is no longer a victory dance to a nation across the Atlantic Ocean. It is a celebration of who we are, not where we have been. As we walked around and saw the children with their painted faces smeared with cotton candy and a little barbeque sauce, I couldn’t help but think that these little people, who will one day run this country, are yet one more generation further from those brave men and women.
I can hope that towns like Fernley will continue to evolve into a day not just to remember an event long ago, but also a day to celebrate the people that we share this nation with….a day to remember that whether you love this country, hate it, or don’t care either way, we all live here, so let’s make a day of it together. I think for at least Fernley, Nevada, they capture that quite well.
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