I’m sorry, it’s not summer. Not really. I know, the calendar says summer started on June 20. It’s certainly hot enough, with temperatures in the mid-90s in most of the Upvalley. But it is not summer, because there are no parades.
Every year, I mark the passage of summer by the number of parades. In the past, if I didn’t get to at least one, I felt cheated.
In summers past, the parade season started with Memorial Day and the Lower Lake Daze Parade. It was held at the same day and time as the start of the Indy 500, so that was a problem – I wanted to watch the best drivers in the world go around the Indianapolis Speedway — but I opted for the parade. I usually had to cover it for a newspaper.
It was usually hot, so the water sprayed on the crowd by the comic team of the Lower Lake Fire Department was welcome … mostly. And, there was always a group of young boys who brought squirt guns to fight back … but sooner or later, they had to realize a firehose will beat a squirt gun any day of the week.
June brought Middletown Days, which was held the third weekend of June. The event was two days, including a Saturday morning parade, a big barbecue lunch at Central Park and gymkhana events, like barrel racing and calf roping, at the dirt horse arena. Those events showed the skill of riders and their horses.
Saturday night a country and western band played on the stage and on Sunday, the Middletown Lionesses hosted a “Fathers’ Day” pancake breakfast. After a cowboy church service, there were more events showing off the skills of horses and riders.
Saturday’s parade was typical: People lined both sides of the street, trying to find a shady spot to watch. There were many, many horse entries, including youngsters from the long-time area families; a group of Model A cars from Clearlake; the Shriners in their funny go-karts; youngsters on decorated bicycles; and the commercial entries, which usually included big heavy-duty trucks. Leading off the parade was the South Lake County Fire Department and all its engines.
On the Fourth of July, the annual Silverado Parade, now called the Fourth of July Parade, would kick off the Napa County Fair in Calistoga, which would be held for several days after the parade.
Each year, people line up on both sides of Lincoln Avenue for the parade, and on July 3 people started to put chairs on the sidewalks to mark their spots. Hundreds and maybe thousands of people attended the parade.
Last year, the parade began at Lincoln Avenue near the Calistoga Inn – the entries were lined up on Cedar Street – and marched down Lincoln past the reviewing stand – parade entries are judged, don’t you know – at Washington Street and headed down to Cal Mart, where the parade turned onto Fair Way. In years past, the parade ended at the Fairgrounds, where a ribbon was cut, opening the Napa County Fair.
More than 30 years ago, the Weekly Calistogan staff, which included me, participated in the parade. I drove an old flatbed truck with a large gang of people on the back. That was the only time I was in the parade, and I enjoyed it.
Another memory was from several years ago, when I joined Mike Hardy and a few others from Rianda House as volunteers for the Napa County Fair. My job was to sell tickets. Now, I usually don’t handle cash, so I was worried about the assignment. But, much to my surprise and to the surprise of my boss, a member of the carnival management, my cash drawer was exactly right at the end of the night … she said that never happens, there usually is a discrepancy of a few pennies, nickels and quarters.
This year, though, because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, there will be no Silverado Parade, no Fourth of July events at the fairgrounds and most discouraging, no fireworks to light up the night sky, either in Napa, St. Helena or Calistoga.
Darn it … to me, it just doesn’t feel like summer.
You may reach David Stoneberg at 967-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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