Small Wonders: That's all of us on parade

When you wake up on a Saturday morning and walk out your front door to find Revolutionary War soldiers, cowgirls, men in top hats and tails, ladies with lampshades on their heads and the White Rabbit on horseback idly mingling on your normally quiet street, you can be sure that one of two things is going on:

You had a little too much “Drink Me” potion last night.

Or Burbank is on parade.

Thankfully, I haven't been able to squeeze down the rabbit hole for some time, so it was definitely the latter.

And, I might add, the best parade ever.

I grew up going to the Days of Verdugo parade in Glendale and wandering Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena on New Year’s Eve. And I’ll be honest with you. I hated it. My most memorable parade was the Rose Parade a few years ago that was struck by a hurricane. I am a Grinch when it comes to parades.

But the annual Burbank on Parade has converted me. And this year being Burbank’s centennial celebration, there was even more reason to chase away my clouds.

Our block is the horse staging area. While neighboring streets get Girl Scouts and marching bands and classic cars, we get fertilizer. But we don’t mind, because there is something wonderful about this day that I can’t really describe; something that fills me with more giddy excitement than the prospect of “Toddlers and Tiaras” being taken off the air.

It's not brought to you by Walmart, or sponsored by Coca-Cola. You don’t have to sleep on the sidewalk overnight, fight through sardine-like crowds or spend a fortune on bleacher seats. It’s not about winning a trophy for best use of a daffodil.

It’s about something so much more important.

And from our prime spot on the sunny side of Olive Avenue, on the kind of spring day that reminds you why people move to Los Angeles, with cool breezes and crystal views, we saw it.

Burbank son Opie riding on the back seat of a convertible Camaro; a celebrity so far removed from the rest of us, yet so very much one of us today.

Our mayor, City Council and state representatives out from behind the desk, dais and microphone, within earshot and taking our applause and our good-natured heckles with grace and good cheer. Just doing their duty as public servants by getting out among the people, but somehow I have to believe this particular service is something they don’t mind.

Horses and their riders in festive regalia. Some of petite stature and stunted growth, others better suited pulling a beer wagon. And my favorite, the ones who prance as if barefoot on hot sand. We all do that dance once in a while.

And the crews with buckets and shovels not far behind, scooping the waste so no one steps in it — a dance of another kind we all know too well. And we cheered for them even more.

Junior marching bands with ill-fitting polyester uniforms belting it out, loud and proud. Gymnastics troops cartwheeling their way from start to finish. Boy Scouts with banners, lanky and clumsy of foot, but long on pride. Mothers pushing their babies in strollers or pulling them in wagons. Yes, always pushing or pulling our children. They deserve our roars of appreciation.

Floats not designed by NASA; flatbed trucks with hay bales, streamers and balloons, carrying our Girl Scouts and church bands, our school teachers and community volunteers.

Fire trucks, squad cars and taxis, some modern and new, others from bygone eras. Firemen, police and military cadets, giving us the too-rare chance to thank them in person.

So many colors and styles and sizes and personalities, all taking their turn in a march that doesn’t end at the park or some designated deadline in time or space.

And why do we cheer when they march by? What brings us to our feet, clapping and rooting for such ordinary folks? Not their fame, their lofty positions in society or their bank accounts. We cheer for them because we see ourselves.

That is us up there — damaged and delightful, insipid and inspiring.

For one day we take to the streets not to protest or make demands, but to support and uplift. When we applaud the band or the dancers, the scout or the 80-year-old cheerleader, we applaud ourselves; we take pride in what we see, solace in who we really are: Friends. Neighbors. Family. Community.

I wish every day was that kind of parade.

PATRICK CANEDAY is author of the book “Crooked Little Birdhouse: Random Thoughts on Being Human” available at e-stores now. Check it out at He can be reached on Facebook and at

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