“And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: Tradition!”
While I don’t think Tevye the Dairyman had them in mind when he delivered that iconic line in “Fiddler on the Roof,” Fourth of July parades are a tradition that many towns across the USA enjoy. Here in the western suburbs, families from all around go to the Hinsdale parade because it’s kind of the granddaddy of parades. On every corner and sidewalk you will find people several rows deep, sitting on blankets and chairs or standing to get a glimpse of the patriotic floats. Parade parties fill the porches and lawns and countless friends and family members can be seen laughing and cheering, having returned home to celebrate a long-standing tradition.
In my memory, one particular Hinsdale parade stands out.
The crowd on Garfield Street was startled by the sound of gunfire as the 55th Illinois Volunteer Infantry fired their rifles. With the haze of gunsmoke still hanging in the air, the people fell into a shocked silence. A few seconds later, the infantry strode toward the curb and the captain called out a young woman by name. As she stood up, the rest of the infantry rolled out a giant banner emblazoned with a very important message: “AMY, WILL YOU MARRY ME?” Turning around in surprise, the woman discovered that a young man was kneeling at her feet, waiting for her answer.
We all have our family traditions that keep our lives in balance. In my family, we had some quirky ones for sure. When I was a kid, for instance, we used to open only one gift on Christmas Eve. I would always struggle to guess what was wrapped up in the box before opening it. Shaking a particularly enticing gift one year, I was sure it contained a gold coin that would soon be added to my collection. But when I ripped open the paper, it turned out to be fingernail clippers! My mom laughed and laughed, and my sour reaction gave birth to a slight change in our tradition: we started opening two gifts!
These days, we open all of the gifts from “RaRa” (my mom) on the eve of Christmas because my children love to celebrate in her home in Riverside. As we drive home, we can’t wait to see our town lit up with another beloved tradition: the luminarias in Clarendon Hills.
My wife is also big on tradition. In fact, we seem to have our family’s internal clock set to them. She is part Greek, and most people know that traditions run deep in Greek families. For Amy, relationships are very important, so any familiar activities we can do with family and friends are welcome and cherished. Vacations, reunions and holidays are all very important to us.
We celebrate some Clarendon Hills-specific traditions as well. Daisy Days and Daisy Dash are probably some of most important. We also love the Dancin’ in the Streets festival, the Fishing Derby at Prospect Park (coming up on Saturday, July 26 at 8:30 a.m.) and watching fireworks from Prospect Park.
Still, the most special one (to me, anyway) will always be the Fourth of July parade. My wife’s family, along with many other family and friends, always go to the same spot on Garfield between Third and Fourth streets, where that important banner was unfurled. It’s been 15 wonderful years since that young man (who looks very much like a younger version of myself) got down on one knee in front of so many people. And 15 years later, I am still so happy that she said yes!
As the fire trucks roll on, so does the tradition. And it keeps that priceless memory fresh in our hearts.
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around Clarendon Hills. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting Clarendon Hills residents and even a little about Clarendon Hills history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry’s office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com