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Third of July

Started: 2022-07-14 15:11:03

Submitted: 2022-07-14 20:01:49

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In which the intrepid narrator observes Independence Day on the Third of July

This year, the city of Scotts Valley held its independence day holiday celebration on Sunday, the third of July. They explained this on their website by telling us that they were initially not sure whether they'd be able to hold a celebration at all this year (what with this being the Third Plague Year and everything), and by the time they decided to go for it, they were worried that they wouldn't be able to get all of the vendors and parade entrants they were expecting on the fourth (because they were late and everyone else had already signed up to observe the fourth elsewhere), so they decided to go for the third, because it was close enough (and also had the advantage of being a Sunday this year).

We drove to Scotts Valley for the parade down Scotts Valley Drive, running parallel to Highway 17. We drove down the parade route, still open a half-hour before the parade would start, and parked on the same side street we did last year. (It felt a little weird to be doing the same thing we did last year for a major holiday: for the past several years COVID-19 (and various moves) have disrupted our holiday observances to the point where every one was different.) When we arrived the sidewalks were filled with camp chairs and awnings that had been set up to stake out a good spot and then abandoned, on the theory that the chairs themselves were enough to reserve a spot without anyone physically present. It seemed rude for people to have left their chairs unaccompanied, but also rude for us to move them or sit in front of them. We found a spot between the empty chairs, near the parade's turn-around point (but this year we remembered one of our lessons from last year: the parade would turn around before the median on Scotts Valley Drive, so we needed to go downstream of the median before trying to find a spot.)

Kiesa, Jaeger, Calvin, and Julian at Scotts Valley Fourth of July parade
Kiesa, Jaeger, Calvin, and Julian at Scotts Valley Fourth of July parade

We waited in the sun for the parade to begin. We watched the event we expected where the city cops parked vehicles and set up barricades ahead of the median at the parade's turn-around point, triggering a scramble when the people who were sitting on the sidewalk with a view of the median suddenly realized they were no longer watching the parade.

Scotts Valley Fire
Scotts Valley Fire

Then the parade started, with its random assortment of government agencies, political groups, and other civic groups. Our spot at the turn-around point gave us front-row seats to see vehicles attempt to make the U-turn, with various levels of success. Most of the larger vehicles (like the fire truck pictured here) did a three-point turn. Some smaller vehicles that ought to have been able to do a simple U-turn did a three-point turn anyway. The parade included a couple of pickup trucks pulling trailers; all of these vehicles executed a flawless U-turn (probably because a three-point turn with a trailer would have been awkward, and hopefully because the drivers knew what they were getting themselves into and knew how to execute a U-turn across four lanes of traffic plus a center turn lane).

Scotts Valley Fire executes a three-point turn
Scotts Valley Fire executes a three-point turn

To be fair to some of the smaller vehicles, the crowd encroached from the sidewalk onto the road, completely occupying the tiny bike lane on the shoulder and making it difficult to safely use the right-most lane. But many of the vehicles brought this on themselves by throwing candy into the crowd; and some of the vehicles threw candy into the road where children of various ages would dart into traffic to pick up candy for themselves. For a while it seemed like the crowd would push the U-turn point further and further down the road by stepping forward and not stepping back, but after a couple of minutes the cops and parade staff running crowd control realized what was happening and successfully herded the crowd back towards the barricades.

Gail Pellerin for Assembly
Gail Pellerin for Assembly

One of the overtly political entries in the parade was state assembly candidate Gail Pellerin, running for the district representing both Santa Cruz and parts of Santa Clara Valley.

Democrats stand with Planned Parenthood
Democrats stand with Planned Parenthood

The local Democratic party waved signs in support of Planned Parenthood.

There was another entry for a group of people just advocating for "freedom", including bodily autonomy; but the context seemed to be the sort of bodily autonomy that includes not getting vaccine shots when one is feeling petulant, not the sort of bodily autonomy that includes making one's own decisions about one's own reproductive health.

Stunt planes fly over Scotts Valley
Stunt planes fly over Scotts Valley

This year featured another fly-over by a stunt plane team, flying back and forth across the parade route trailing smoke and performing various acrobatic stunts, but this year they seemed to time their entry to run on top of the parade rather than before it, so I spent more time paying attention to the parade and less time paying attention to the planes overhead.

Stunt planes fly over the Scotts Valley Fourth of July parade
Stunt planes fly over the Scotts Valley Fourth of July parade

I was amused by the entry from the Old Volks' Home with a bunch of aging Volkswagen meandering down the parade route at the parade's walking pace. (This picture depicts the vehicle's passenger having just thrown a handful of candy onto the road, visible in the scattering scraps in the lower left portion of the picture.)

Old Volkswagen representing the Old Volks Home
Old Volkswagen representing the Old Volks Home

And just like last year, the County Home Inspection and Termite entry showed up with a motorbike doing various stunts jumping up and driving over an old beater car. One can only hope that the inspection service does a better job with its customers' homes than the car.

County Home Inspection and Termite stunts
County Home Inspection and Termite stunts

When the parade ended we headed back home. I nipped out to Whole Foods for deli potato salad and potato chips so I could serve for dinner a culturally-significant meal of burgers, potato salad, potato chips, and watermelon.

In the evening, Julian and I headed back to Scotts Valley to see fireworks. (The other members of our family were not particularly interested in seeing fireworks, despite their obvious cultural significance.) i was too lazy to buy tickets to the official event in the Airpark, so we ended up parking in the Safeway parking lot on Mount Herman Road and finding a place to sit on the sidewalk with a clear view of the fireworks over the park. (The downside of our chosen location was that we were looking over the road to see the fireworks, so we were occasionally distracted by a car driving past.) We arrived in enough time to get parking and get a decent place to sit, but even when we arrived the parking lot was mobbed by other people waiting to see the fireworks. Some had come much earlier than us and had set up camp chairs in the parking lot itself and appeared to be enjoying a tailgate party while they waited.

Scotts Valley fireworks
Scotts Valley fireworks

Then the fireworks started, and the cops who had been driving back and forth on what looked like electric motorcycles and setting up traffic cones to block off the left turns stopped to watch the show with the rest of us.

Red, white, and blue fireworks
Red, white, and blue fireworks

The show was a fine show, and we could see just about everything across the empty field between us and the airpark, only slightly obstructed by the road (and the cops watching the show).

Scotts Valley fireworks finale
Scotts Valley fireworks finale

And then there was the grand finale and the show was over. We headed back to the car and then waited in the parking lot for the better part of half an hour to make it out and onto Mount Hermon Road and back home. All of the intersections had been taken over by traffic cops, but it wasn't clear what their objective was or whether they were coordinating; many of the intersections seemed to be gridlocked with cars unable to move in any direction blocking anyone else from moving and clearing a space. We eventually made it out of the lot and out to highway 17 and back home to Santa Cruz, having enjoyed another culturally-significant independence day observation, albeit a day early.

Blessed is he who, not having anything to say, can not be persuaded to say it.
- Dr. Show, 24 August 1999