20 Days to Go: The last parade
This wasn’t what I had planned for today’s blog, but I just felt God had different plans. For the last four years, our main marketing for Reed’s Run has been local parades. We have been giving away bubbles, pencils, stickers, beads, informational cards, and magnets.
Every organization has people who go above and beyond and Reed’s Run is no different. One person for parades has spent the last four years washing her truck, entering our units, and watching diligently to keep everyone safe. Affectionately known to all of us as the parade queen, Linda was given a tiara by our family to keep the spirit going. One of Reed’s best buddies has been so sweet to bring his refurbished tractor (Grand Champion 4-H project) decked out with Reed magnets to the parades. Of course, it didn’t hurt that his tractor matched Reed’s favorite color.
I have always loved a good parade, especially the Fiesta Five Flags parade in my hometown of Pensacola, Florida. But prior to Reed’s Run, I had only been in a couple parades as a kid. Nothing compares to the warm feelings you get while walking along small town streets. Seeing the anticipation in the eyes of the little ones waiting for whatever goodie we might have that day was priceless.
I was always blown away when there were the pockets of people who would clap uproariously because they stood behind our mission. More than once, I cried when we received standing ovations. It is hard to explain but when we had that type of reception, deep down we knew that our sweet redhead wouldn’t be forgotten.
Over the years, we have participated in many local festival parades. We were welcomed by the sweet folks of Tyler. We have roasted at Cottonwood’s Coming Days, but we loved every minute of it. We have partied with Belgian American Days, and we have been embraced by their love. We have sung a song or two at Marshall’s Sounds of Summer parade, and we even went back to our roots in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. We have had huge team turnout for the Wood Lake fair parade, but mostly, I think that was because everyone wanted to stay for burgers afterward. We have enjoyed a labor (day) of love at Tracy, and we always are amazed at the turnout. Each year’s parade season ends at the place where Reed got his first true snuggly hat, Minneota’s Boxelder Bug Days. While rivals in school competitions, only love has been shared with our family in real life from the town of Minneota. Retiring in the town where Huck visits his nursing home friends and having them right at the end of the parade route was simply a divinely, poetic ending.
So it came as quite a shock to me as we loaded up with our parade accoutrement today when I started to sob. May be it was foreshadowing for the big day and I am more emotional than I think I am, but I really wasn’t prepared for my reaction. It is only a parade after all.
No, it really isn’t. It has been a safe place to go and to share about Reed’s Run, but more than that it has been like our family and dear friends have been given a big group hug every step of the parade route. Even today where cyberhugs were coming via facebook from my cousin-in-law. Parades have been encouragement and sanctuary wrapped up into one. It has been a wonderful place to see just how many people have prayed and cared for us over the years, and for that I am truly THANKFUL.
To the towns of Ghent, Cottonwood, Wood Lake, Tyler, Tracy, Minneota, and Marshall, THANK YOU for the memories. To our team members, who have walked, hugged, chatted, explained, sacrificed, limped, and laughed with us, THANK YOU for always loving us.
We have been loved in the storm, embraced and supported following the storm, and encouraged each and every candy strewn step of the way. Even though my journey today was filled with tears (and smiles), it was all worth it!