Sunday, March 21, 2010

First Ward Parade

The First Ward parade is one of two parades attend—the other being Buffalo’s Pride Parade. And this year for the first time a Pride float was included in a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in NY State. For such a staid community, this is progressive.

The First Ward was the first neighborhood built in Buffalo and it became Irish when the immigrants moved in over 100 years ago.

We usually park near the end of the parade route by The Perry Projects. Aunt Ann and I bundled ourselves and Sam up, then pulled him in his red wagon to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. As you near the parade route, you can see the old rusted Granaries in the distance. They appear as end caps to the street. We met up with Mitch—my uncle’s finance. Danny proposed at the parade last year (see previous blog entry). Whenever I walk along the streets of the First Ward, I’m reminded of the movie Hope and Glory which is about a boy and his friends playing in the rubble of WWII. The juxtaposition of youth against the ruins of war is quite striking.

And so it is at The First Ward. That image of squads of Public Servants marching along the ruins of industry strikes me the same way. Add to it the fierce wind and rain. I can almost hear orchestral music swelling in the background. I watch it stream by me like a private movie screening.

But then someone tossed me a can of Genny beer. The crescendo reached the coda.

I’ve seen so much of continental U.S. from coast to coast and pole to pole—land and city scapes. I’ve felt restored, enlivened and gentrified in those places. But those places want not.

Whenever I’m at one of these kinds of events in Buffalo, the religious word “witness” comes to mind. Why I feel compelled to do this is a bit of conundrum for me. I’ve never understood what the importance of putting eyes or ears to an event could mean especially if I’m sharing it with other eyes and ears. If a tree falls in the forest and everyone in South Buffalo hears it, does it matter if I heard it too. Especially me. I don’t think participation is going to bring South Buffalo back to its former Glory. I don’t even Hope for that.

I’m enchanted with forging on in the rubble. I want to play in it; see my uncles and cousins march in it. I want to bundle my boy in rain gear and roll him up to the front line of it.

I simply want to witness it.

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