A reputable member of the community once described Lakewood’s Fourth of July parade as “Hooterville on Wheels.” It ranks with Halloween as one of my favorite days in Lakewood. It’s when the neighbors come out to play together. We dress up in goofy costumes and do goofy things. And we pass out candy.
This year’s Fourth of July parade was the debut performance of the Edwards Avenue Bucket Drum Corps. If you haven’t put it together, that counts among the “goofy things.”
Perhaps you’ve seen bucket drummers on Youtube, or on a trip to New York. They were probably highly skilled, and wowed you with the range of sounds they were able to produce with five-gallon plastic buckets. The players were probably real drummers. They probably practiced.
The Edwards Avenue Bucket Drum Corps is not like that. We did have a couple of practices, one of which was interrupted by police responding to a complaint of noise in the neighborhood. But we are more accurately described as “a loose collection of DIY bangers using buckets and other recycled containers for allegedly musical purposes.” That’s what the parade officials said at the reviewing stand. That’s the blurb I sent them.
This is an appropriate time for a shout out to the Lakeland Avenue Kazoo Band, which served as EABDC’s inspiration. If you haven’t been in Lakewood for a while, you might not remember the strolling kazooers of Lakeland Avenue, who appeared annually in the Fourth of July parade, blowing patriotic tunes horribly out their kazoos as they strode the parade route in a melange of faded orange T-shirts. They were star-spangled spectacular, and that’s no lie. Somebody ought to start that up again. Are you with me, Lakeland?
But much as I respect the zany kazoo-ers of Lakeland, Avenue, I can’t help but note that bucket drums are louder. Much louder. To wit: No one ever called the police on a kazoo band practice. You can look that up.
Lakewood’s other great Fourth of July tradition is the fireworks. In my somehat biased perception, what makes the Lakewood fireworks great is the fact that the city has 52,000 people, and very little parking. In fact, parking is especially scarce near the park, where the fireworks are launched. All you’ve got there are the tony streets near the lake. No shopping mall. No McDonald’s parking lot. So most of the tens-of-thousands of people come to the fireworks on foot, or on their bikes. It’s a great crowd experience–not just being there, but the coming and going, too.
Later, when the fireworks got going, I tried to get a picture of myself laying on the blanket between my kids, looking up at the rockets’ red glare. I post it here in support of the professional photographers of the world: good photography is not just a matter of pointing your cell phone. Even if you have a fancy cell phone, that doesn’t make you a pro. You need any more proof than this?
I was a little more successful turning the phone around to snap pics of the fireworks themselves. I know pictures of fireworks are commonplace, and that they never do justice to the experience–lacking, as they do, both the sound and the sulphur smell, not to mention the fact that the pictures are usually much smaller than the real thing. But hey, I was born when only NASA and maybe MIT had computers. Now anyone with a cell phone can capture pictures and send them around the world by pushing a few buttons. It doesn’t make you a pro, but still. Ain’t technology something?