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Everybody loves a parade--or so “they” say. Last weekend was the 4th of July, Independence Day, and there were parades, hotdogs, and fireworks throughout our American cities.

However, a recent poll showed that 40% of the people, when asked, did not know what Independence Day stood for, nor little about what happened in 1776. I hope that is not the case for the inhabitants of Belton, where a parade was held.

The city of Belton, which is about 43 miles from Waco, where I live, had a parade which was 1.5 miles long and shown on local TV. Two commentators, Lyndsay and Chris, reviewed the parade giving names, statistics, and chatter for much longer than the one hour that I watched. They were excited and thrilled to see the horses (and riders), firetrucks (and drivers), floats (and floatees), bands (and bandees), cars with politicians, real estate salespeople, and other famous dignitaries, all part of the 200 entries to the parade.

I didn’t watch the annual Hot Dog Eating Contest this year, but I understand that Joey Chestnut won, like he has for several years. He “ate” 76 in 2021 but only downed 56 last year, still enough to make you sick if you watched him. Generally. he can “consume” 60 or more in 10 minutes and when done, he said his sweat smells like hot dogs. His girlfriend, when asked, said that he “smelled different,” leaving me to wonder what he usually smelled like.

The parade was dominated by cars and trucks that advertised local businesses, such as the Temple Towing Service, Dog Training and Fences, Red Box Dumpsters (“two dumps for the price of one”), Free and Accepted Masons, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Lion’s Club, United Rentals, CTX Max Plumbing, Yacht Club, Central TX Tea Party, Republican Party, and even the Sons of Confederate Veterans (there can’t be many left!), and so on, and on.

An occasional band performed on the back of a truck or on a float and played patriotic and favorite songs There was even a small contingent of bagpipe players competing with the firetruck horns. Cars and trucks dominated the parade, with the commentators favoring the jeep because “you can drive with your leg sticking out.”

Churches were represented as well: the Country Church (“the church to belong to”), the Freedom Road Church, the Potter’s house (“three services each week”), and so on. I thought, “If all the churches in Waco were represented in a parade, it might reach from here to Houston.”

The commentators said that 13,000 people were there to watch the parade, sheltered by their umbrellas and little shade huts, most reclining comfortably in chairs. There were the red, white, and blue flags or their substitutes flying from vehicles, waved by floatees, suspended from poles, and small flags, and held by children and older people.

Veterans were prominent in the parade because America is full of them and there is a large military base near Belton. The “men in blue” were also on parade and “Back the Blue” signs reminded the onlookers of the need of funds. An old soldier in an old army uniform walked alone, carrying a flag, representing the “unknown soldier(s)” and reminding us of the fate of many lost military personnel.

Tonight there will be a fireworks display. I read that there are many fireworks companies for hire from Dallas Texas, and the minimum price for July 1-4 is $25,000 per event, although the price for weddings and small events drops to $5,000, including insurance, which is required. There are various levels of fireworks and The Ship Show--Premier Pyrotechnics, Inc. will provide a custom show, including all materials and product delivery. If the explosives fail, a raincheck will be given for next year. Just kidding, they “never” fail.

There are all kinds of firework devices to scorch your hand or lose a finger with. The most popular are the Roman Candle, the Parachute, the Skyrocket, and the Sparkler. Also available is the Crossette, a shell-like container with comets that shoot out and resemble a starfish shape. The sky will be alight with the sound of firecrackers.

In 2022 a report estimated that there were 10,200 fireworks-related injuries and 73 percent occurred during the one month surrounding July 4th. The hands and fingers make up an estimated 29 percent of injuries, with the head, face, and ears following with an estimated 19 percent. Legs also have an estimated 19 percent, and eyes an estimated 16 percent. Excuse the pun, but “handling” fireworks can be dangerous.

Instead of remembering what the date of July 4 represents in our history, we tend to focus on fireworks, hotdogs, and parades. As one of the floats in the Belton parade reminds us, “Prayer changes things.” It doesn’t heal scorched hands or burst ear drums, but it should remind us of what Independence Day really means.

Karl Franklin


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