On the Salem Willows Horribles Parade, and How it Makes Me Proud to Be an American, Thank You Very Much
One of the things I like about New England is that it has a lot of local traditional things that you just don’t get on Long Island. Perhaps this has something to do with the way that these two places view heritage and tradition. New England honors Thoreau by preserving Walden Pond; Long Island has The Walt Whitman Mall.
In this vein, New England towns inevitably have some sort of awesome annual celebration, sometimes more than one. Often this celebration involves a parade. Sometimes this celebration involves food and drink as well, which makes it even better.
In The Willows part of Salem, Massachusetts, they celebrate July 4th with a parade that should make Middle Atlantic folk feel truly deprived. It is called The Horribles Parade, and it is, in fact, a tradition that takes place in other New England towns such as Beverly Farms. The solemn occasion of the nation’s birthday is a good opportunity to stress the importance of not taking things seriously, and The Salem Willows Horribles Parade does a superb job at this.
The rules go something like this: there is a parade, and there are floats and groups based on current events from the previous year. In addition to these groups, there are straight out adorable children's groups, such as these folks dressed up as nursery rhyme characters (in this case, Little Bo Peep and her sheep, and the mouse from Hickory Dickory Dock, with his dad playing the clock):
The adorable kids, however, are kind of the appetizers for the main course: a competition to see who can create the most offensive (or at least amusing) float. The creators of this float win a trophy for “Most Horrible,” and display this trophy with pride, as they indeed should.
Yes, in past, in the year that the theme was “the year of worst moms,” there was indeed a float that featured someone dressed as Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s mom cooking up a bomb in a cauldron.
Yes, there was, another year, a float with a woman dressed as Bill Clinton, and a man dressed as Monica Lewinsky (and yes, of course, of course, of course, he was wearing a hideously stained dress).
Yes, of course there was, in the year of Twittergate, a Weinermobile with an escort of people in cell phone costumes.
And this year, of course, of course, of course, we had Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in bed together:
...accompanied by Bernie, of course, with Caitlin Jenner in tow.
....with a sort of honor guard forming a wall to keep those foreigners out (and yes, they were carrying cheese graters; horrible puns are encouraged as well).
There really is not much to say when pictures say so much, but it is worth mentioning that this is what makes me proud to be an American. The true sign of any totalitarian state is an utter failure to laugh at itself (yes, even after something as tragic as The Boston Marathon Bombing...as a matter of fact, especially then). The Horribles parade is a reminder that we still can do this, and as long as we still can, the terrorists have not won.