It's true. My enthusiasm for watching parades is at an all-time low. Maybe it is because I no longer care about the candy being thrown from slow-moving convertibles by local government candidates. I skipped ours today, instead catching up on the much-needed sleep that I so frequently whine about.

The one I never missed was the one by our home in Denver. We lived for 7 years or so in a tall 2-story brown brick mock Tudor right around the corner from Observatory Park, near the University of Denver campus. The schedule and events to the parade were always exactly the same: begin at 10AM, with the VA band playing the Star Spangled Banner, the neighborhood association selling Otter Pops and sodas, and the Lining Up Of The Participants. The only participants of this popular parade were children on bikes, skates, scooters, motorized Barbie cars, wagons, babies in strollers, and dogs. Adults were there to watch over the shaky new bikers, push the strollers, and yank the dogs back into line if they got feisty. Everyone decorated their wheels and themselves in patriotic gear, and everyone got a ribbon. The parade route was exactly one city block long, and the children would ride in a long oval around until everyone decided they had had enough in the hot 90+-degree sun.

When we moved there, that first year, I had one new biker and a dog in the parade. A year later, I had a more-confident biker, and a baby in a stroller, and a dog. Five years after that, I had an impudently-overconfident biker, a petulant preschooler in sunglasses pulled in a wagon, a baby in a stroller, a dog, and another dog, who was a friend of my dog. Then we moved out of the neighborhood. July 4th came around again and we all missed the neighborhood parade. I suppose we could've gone anyway as refugee suburban participants, but we didn't.

But I neglected to mention the VERY BEST part of the whole thing. After the parade, and the intake of Otter Pops, everyone waited until they heard IT. A siren. The Denver Fire Pumper Truck, blaring away, lights flashing, would pull up alongside the playground of the park, connect to the water, and threw what seemed like zillions of gallons of ice cold water high high high into the sky, raining down on us all, soaking everything to sopping wet, making everyone scream and run. You have never seen so many happy kids and grown-ups and shaking-fur dogs leaping about in all your life. Someone would get hit with a huge plop of heavy water and screech, grinning like a big fool, while others tried to outrun the sprays, usually failing.

After a good 15 minutes or so of this, the fire truck would reel everything in again and return to the fire house, with a grateful round of applause given by the bedraggled folks. I would round up the kids, walk back to the house, stripping off the wet clothes on the back porch. We'd make a picnic lunch, sit outside to dry off. The dog, thrilled at her water adventure, would sleep the rest of the day.

Happy Independence Day, readers.