There’s this big Halloween parade in our town, and I’d never been until today. First, I was too adult, then Klara was too little, then there was icy rain the day of. Finally, we decided to go because the event is legendary.
Folks, it was horrid. I haven’t felt this humiliated since I stopped working at Cornell. I’m writing this right now, with my cheeks burning in shame. Here’s what happened.
I thought, a Halloween parade, right? Costumes, fun floats, what else could it be? And maybe there was all that but I couldn’t find it in myself to stay beyond the first 8 minutes.
The beginning was beautiful. Veterans walked with flags, everybody cheered. A wonderful moment.
And then the important people in luxurious vehicles drove in a procession. First, the Chamber of Commerce, then the Mayor, the administrators at my university, the owners of a McMansion here in town, a big law firm. As they drove, they threw candy into the crowd and plebeian children crawled on the ground picking it up. If at least the fancy vehicles were decorated for Halloween or the people in them wore costumes, maybe this would feel differently. But no. I was particularly struck by the teenage son of a local millionaire who wore a fancy suit and threw candy at children crawling in the dirt with a look of mild disgust.
That’s when we left. Thankfully, Klara doesn’t get the hype over candy and didn’t mind leaving. I never limit her access to sweets, so she wouldn’t bother to pick a piece of candy off the ground.
I’m particularly struck by the symbolism of the contrast between the veterans starting the parade to remind us of the sacrifices made for our freedom and people crawling in the dirt for meaningless handouts as if the concept of dignity were non-existent.
As they say, this explains a lot. Learn as a child to crawl in the mud to entertain your social betters, and what won’t you do as an adult?