Here in SLO there's no 4th of July parade, so all the Wonder Years families on my brother's street started a new tradition last year by having their own parade. It's for the kids! of course, save the Guinness and Jameson party favors. They put up orange cone barriers at each end of of this little three-block stretch (that's right it's not a cul-de-sac they're blocking off...it's a thru-street) and then they let the kids and everyone else ride their festively decorated bikes up and down for half-an-hour or so before the big BBQ.
Sethzilla, my fatigue-wearin', camo-painted Rat Rod drivin', former Army Ranger buddy who was also once a bouncer at McCarthy's -- and got stabbed in the old bar (capacity 49) the same night we had my bro and his wife's wedding reception there -- but is now on security patrol for PG&E at Diablo Canyon -- where he brags that he gets to carry four firearms on his person at all times -- yeah him, Sethzilla makes these crazy bikes my buddy Reek would love. Double-deckers, 10-foot extended forks, backwards parts etc.... Yeah, Sethzilla rides in the parade.
'Nother guy named Bert, lives a couple doors down from my bro. He's a guy that had to spend a couple days in jail a while back because he beat the snot out of a guy who was abusing his girlfriend. Everyone, including the cops, said he did the right thing. Both times. Bert's the guy who, when some college kids across the street were making too much racket about 10pm on a weeknight, went over there shirtless in his tighty-whiteys with a giant monkey-wrench and threatened to kill them all. He's a teddy-bear, really. Anyway, Bert has a collection of whacky bikes too: Big front wheel/small back wheel, small front wheel/big back wheel, slick tire Stingray.
He has this one bike that has a big front wheel/small back wheel and you steer it by the back wheel, so you have to throw your hips out in whichever direction you want to turn. Bert rides that thing around town with a ghetto-blaster affixed by bungy-cords to the BMX handlebars blasting out crazy punk rock music. Oh yeah, he's a scene. One time I was in the Frog-and-Peach Pub and he came rolling in there on that bike. I asked him if I could try it. "Sure," he said, "but I don't think you'll be able to ride it in here," gesturing to the bowling lane-like dimensions of the bar. "Wanna bet?" I asked. And it was on. I started doing multiple figure-8s in there on that crazy bike....and he's loved me like a brother ever since. Yeah, Bert rides in the parade.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the 4th of July parade! Last year, with the street blocked off, some party pooper called the fuzz, and two rollers showed up loaded for bear and ready to bust up our little patriotic rager.
"What the hell? You people can't just block off a street like that! You need a permit to do that!"
My brother turned and gestured toward the 30-or-40 little kids behind him on their red-white-and-blue festooned bicycles, most of them still with training wheels, and was like: "?????."
The cops got the picture pretty quick and changed their tune. "How 'bout if we lead the parade?" one of them asked. And so they pulled their black-and-whites to the head of the line, flipped on their light bars, gave the sirens a "whoop" or two and led the whole darn procession up and down the block a couple times. It was classic. All that was missing was SLO's new hook-and-ladder fire truck, capable of reaching the tops of five-story buildings....in a town with a three-story height limit!
Happy 4th of July from the Happiest City in America!