The Harvest Homecoming parade returns today after a year’s COVID layoff. Those of you who know me well understand the depth of my love-hate relationship with the parade, and Harvest Homecoming itself, and in fact the city of New Albany as a whole.
Like the time when I was told, in almost these exact words, “If you want to be in the parade as the candidate for mayor preaching walkability, you’ll just have to ride in a car like everyone else.”
Hence our civic slogan: “Irony-Free: New Albaneee!”
But this is my own internal burden as one who has chosen to exile in place amid what I view as congenital incomprehension, and of course it’s not YOUR problem at all. It simply IS.
I’ve tried my best to adapt and make peace with myriad sources of local dissonance, wherever and whenever possible. Mission mostly accomplished, and I think it’s gone as well as might be expected of an eternal contrarian who views himself as having been errantly dropped hereabouts by a drunken stork, and fated to suggest well, you know, there IS another way.
Evidently I love New Albany more than hate it, or else I’d lose sleep, drink myself to death or leave (and not one of these markers is a factor in my life). Diana and I have a wonderful time living our lives together in this house, even if the street outside is testament to just about everything wrong with the way this city is governed.
And this brings me back to the Harvest Homecoming parade, and the reason why I’ll always take the opportunity to reference another way of making a parade, in Poperinge (Belgium), one that isn’t automobile-centric, and involves people (imagine that) of all ages, quite a few of them walking a route just as long as the one Harvest Homecoming parade participants will be driving today.
And, as a final recommendation, Poperinge’s parade is QUIET.
Look, I realize that our parade here in New Albany occurs the way it does because (a) that’s how it’s always been, and (b) locals want it that way. That’s fine, and as Kurt Vonnegut once wrote in a not at all dissimilar storytelling context, “so it goes.”
Just don’t expect me to refrain from reminding you about those other possibilities. Community service, and all.
We’re not hosting a gathering this year, so instead, have a look at these Poperinge hop fest parade photos, and don’t forget raise a toast to New Albany’s HUMVEE-caliber stormwater control vehicles as they rumble past, in 2021 presumably retrofitted to resemble the Reisz Mahal — because it would seem that having committed to spend somewhere between $15 and $20 million on a refurbished warehouse containing a mere handful of offices, almost none of which ordinary people will ever have a reason to visit, we must lionize the achievement using every available propaganda organ, incessantly, at every opportunity.
That’s Walkability-Free New Albaneee!