Me and AB

But when the lights are turning ’round
And wheels are rolling on the ground
That day I’ll burn this whole place down
When the circus comes to town

“When the Circus Comes to Town” – Los Lobos, Just Another Band from East L.A.

These lyrics well describe, I think, the way my wife feels about the Big ‘Chester’s annual Apple Blossom Festival. She has herself summed up the way she feels and I invite you to peruse these thoughts at your leisure. All that said, and God help me, I really kinda like it.

Don’t get me wrong, my response to the question “Hey, do you want to go see a parade?” is invariably, “A parade!? Damn a parade!” And be sure that my language quickly drifts to the right of the color spectrum if your sensibilities are less delicate. The natives of our fair town will tell you that you either throw yourself wholeheartedly into the festivities surrounding Apple Blossom weekend, or you throw yourself into a plane, train or automobile and blow town until things calm down. The latter being an option not available to me, I find it equally impossible to commit to the weekend with the gusto that so many in our fair town manage to muster.

And yet, I have managed after three years of this annual ritual to find a third path. There is a subtle evolution of mood and atmosphere throughout the week that, to me, reaches a sublime apotheosis on Thursday evening. I usually find myself at this time helping to set up hundreds upon hundreds of chairs on the grounds of our church, who through the vagaries of chance, history and city planning sits smack-dab in the middle of the parade route. By 6 PM Thursday, those who are gonna git have got and those who plan to stay are settling in for the upcoming 48 hours of revelry.

On Thursday evening, the guests are in town, the kegs are in the house and the college kids in their too-cool-for-school aviators are sitting on the porch drinking from 32 oz. styrofoam cups. There is a sense of emptiness along the parade route that those who do this every year can feel. This is not to say that no one is around. They are eating around folding tables set up in back yards. They are attending the various carnivals, circus performances and social soirées around town. They are getting ready; they are participating in a city wide ritual that has gone on since the late 1920s.

The emptiness those of us feel along the parade route is one that is drawn by contrast to what we know tomorrow will bring. The firetrucks, the marching bands, the classic cars and the Harely Davidsons. And that is just Friday’s prelude to the four-hour spectacle that brings us some of the same bands, cars, motorcycles but adds celebrities, elephants, jugglers and American Idol winners from years gone by.

But Thursday evening holds all this in store. On Thursday, the drunks are not yet stumbling in the streets; the trash has not overflowed; our stomachs are not bloated from $1 cotton candy, funnel cakes and fresh-squeezed lemonade. On Thursday evening this is a town that celebrates itself; a town that knows of tradition; a town that has always striven to be juuuust a little bigger than its apple-pickin’ britches.

And so, God help me, I enjoy our annual ritual of Apple Blossom. Not for the parades, the carnival food or the crowds. I enjoy it for that Thursday evening sense of anticipation. The chaos of Friday and Saturday are coming, but this too shall pass. Every year we’ll all get together, we’ll enjoy the party and we’ll all promise to come back next year and do it again.

One Response to “Me and AB”

  1. Rainey Says:

    I guess you can just call me Scrooge. Bah Humbug on Apple Blossom! Bah Humbug, I say! :)

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