Summer In A Small Town

We interrupt the Oregon epic, to fast forward to our latest adventure. Pioneer Days in Manassa, Colorado. Summer is an event in Colorado. While other areas of the west experience mild temperatures year round, maybe just a hint of winter now and then, Colorado has a more Midwestern experience of early freezes and late thaws. With most of the state above 4500 feet, the non-winter months can be filled with 4-season days of 80 degree sunshine followed by wind and rain, then hail and then sunshine again. July frequently brings hail and lots of rain and snow bring lots of mosquitos. So Coloradans tend to make the most of summer while it’s here.
Small towns host carnivals, parades and founders day celebrations. There are lots of outdoor concerts and rodeos. Outdoor activities abound.
We try to make it out to some of these events. Sometimes it’s difficult because it would be too much stress on the abuelo. Once in awhile we can get someone to come in and stay with him for a few hours so we can get out and do something different. Recently we were able to make it for a day of the Manassah Pioneer Days. The 2 mile parade route through town was already completely lined with spectators when we got there. Horses and floats were lining up at the start. We strolled main street greeting friends, relatives and neighbors. Young boys wheeled coolers of ice cold sodas up and down the street, kind of a mobile “lemonade” stand. We stopped at the park and found a good place to sit, stand and enjoy the parade.
Manassa’s origins are primarily Mormon, though there are many Native Americans and Hispanics in the area. Several of the entries in the parade were traditionally dressed Mormons pulling hand carts and driving horse-drawn wagons. I marveled at the creativity and skill displayed in many of the floats. Really, this is a small town in the middle of nowhere (aka, San Luis Valley) nearly 100 miles and a mountain range away from Denver or any other big city, yet the floats could have easily been in a much larger, more competitive parade.     
Minions, of course, are dominating the world this summer.
My favorite was the dragon ship.
We also enjoyed Olaf and, of course,
the lovely Pioneer Princess and her court.
Naturally, in this farming and ranching community, there were plenty of horses prancing through town. My only disappointment was the lack of music and the arts. There was no marching band, no drill team, not even a drum corps. Ah well, I guess that is a testament to the sad state of where our school dollars go. Even at our home base in Arizona, there is no high school band, no drill team, no drama department or glee club.
What small town parade would be complete without candy thrown from many of the entrants? We are used to seeing it come from the police and fire trucks, but in Manassa it was mostly the local businesses and politicians who contributed to the local dental practice. I was pleased to see at least half a dozen businesses tossing icy water bottles to grateful spectators. This was new to me, and a welcome change, though we did have our own water.
After the parade, we wandered through the midway. Being on the road frequently, we have played leap frog down the highways with several carnival companies. Like rvers, they experience challenges along the road, but by traveling in numbers, they seem to handle them well. I was happy to see them set up and bringing some fun to an otherwise sleepy little community. Though we did not partake of the rides or the fair food on this particular day, we did buy the boy a snow cone and it was nice to know that these small companies are bringing joy to small communities across the U.S.

Veterans Day

I went to Catholic schools for ten years. Right after daily Mass we would line up for assembly and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by prayers and announcements. Sometimes we would sing the National Anthem. Devotion to country was placed right after devotion to God. Maybe that’s why I choke up when I sing the Star Spangled Banner and blink through tears when I think about the sacrifices that have bought my freedom to be complacent. Like the sacrifice that bought my hope for entry into heaven.

My jaw drops when I encounter people who were born and educated in this country who do not know the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem. They are so entwined with the Sign of the Cross and the Our Father in my psyche, that I cannot comprehend the level of ignorance and arrogance this represents. My five year old son recites the Pledge, the Sign of the Cross and Our Father daily. He sings his own rendition of Star Spangled, which inexplicably contains some reference to “Obama’s red light”. He is homeschooled. It seems to me that now that we’ve taken God out of our public schools, our devotion to our country is failing as well. On that point I am glad to be proved wrong.

The American Legion Post is the hub of activity in our small town. This year they organized our 1st Annual Veteran’s Day parade. While bigger cities were closing off main thoroughfares for large, well attended events, our boys lined the town’s two one-way streets with American Flags, then lined up at the Legion for the trek around town. Our vets led the parade, proudly carrying the flags, followed by the high school cheerleading squad, the historical society and the county sheriff. The only thing missing was the high school band, but that’s because we don’t currently have one. The country folk drove in and honked and hooted as the parade passed by, and the town people stood in their front yards waving and cheering. Children delighted in the candy thrown by the Historical Society and the Sheriff. Afterwards, everyone gathered at the Post for coffee and donuts.The great thing about a small town is that when we get together for something like this, prejudices and fueds fall away in the interest of something bigger. It doesn’t take a natural disaster to bring people together and nurture unity – if only we would do this more often. Our little Catholic mission is also planning some public processions for the Christmas season. Sometimes it seems like we’re two factions – the whites and the hispanics. But when we come together, to process around town, singing and carrying the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th, we will be united. We will celebrate the Mass and share a dinner in the hall. We will watch the children reenact the scene with Our Lady and Juan Diego. We will be one church – if only we would do this more often…