July Fourth on a Street in Arlington

Small is beautiful on Albemarle Street

The annual Albemarle Street July Fourth parade began at 9 a.m. as usual, with the ten year old boys tearing off ahead on their bikes in a burst of good old-fashioned American competition. Chase, age 10, won the bike race (he said).

There was the same old baby blue convertible moving quietly down the street on its white wall tires and the same decorated scooters and bikes.  But changes were afoot along the margins of this small demonstration of patriotic zeal. The balloon man was warming up — Miguel this year, not Paul. The babies who were in strollers last year were walking, albeit uncertainly. The pregnant women from last year’s parade were wheeling their new babies. 

The Middleton family was nowhere to be seen, Austin, who played rousing bagpipes last year, with Scots’ battle songs from the era of Bonnie Prince Charles, and his father, Carl, a Marine who was battling a different kind of enemy. 

A different prince Charles was now king of the country from which we declared independence. 

One au pair was going home with horizons expanded, as another arrived, ready to experience the U.S.  

But some things endure: the allure of donuts and stickers and flags, a small town parade and block party, and pride in the red, white and blue. 

The block party barrier was patriotic too. 

Chase, age 10, the winner of the bike “race” that started the parade. 

The antique convertible always dresses up the parade.