I imagine it all began back in the 1970’s. Tulsa and other cities began to have festivals in the spring and Broken Arrow wanted to get into the act too. The city council had meetings to ask the question: “What do we call our festival?” In a sadly uncreative moment they began to throw out ideas: “Redneck Days”….”Goat Roper Days”…”Yahoo Fest”. Finally, they chose the lesser of the evils that were discussed and decided on “Rooster Days” and like many traditions (the British royal family system comes to mind) they stuck with it in spite of all common sense.

And thus was Rooster Days born.

Actually, the real story (as reported by the crack news team – both of them – at the Broken Arrow Ledger – “Circulation in the Dozens”) is that back in the 30’s, springtime was the time that, as the weather got warmer, farmers began to decide it was time to thin out the roosters from their chicken houses since fertilized eggs spoil faster than unfertilized ones. When a large number of such birds flood the market, the price goes down so they just decide to make a big fried chicken feast and dance out of it.

Whatever its origins, they now have a parade in mid May along with a squalid little arts and crafts fair. This year, Erin’s dance class marched in the aforementioned parade so we went along to watch and cheer. It turned out to be an extremely long parade with a huge number of groups participating. I went with a bad attitude but left feeling pretty upbeat as you will see.

Broken Arrow has about three middle schools, a couple of intermediate schools, and a humungous high school; each of which (except the high school) has a band for each grade. Every one of them marched in the Rooster Days Parade. If you didn’t see some kid you knew in one of the bands, you weren’t looking closely enough. The Broken Arrow Pride (i.e., the high school band) led off the parade as they do in most parades and the musicians had the look of kids who were about three weeks from graduation. They still managed to play pretty well though.

If there is anything more embarrassing than having a parade called the “Rooster Day” parade, it would be having a beauty contest in which you crown a “Miss Chick”. All the Miss Chick contestants rode in late-50’s model convertible Thunderbirds which were very cool in and of themselves. True, the young ladies in the cars were very attractive also but I question the motives of anybody who would attempt to win the title of “Miss Chick”. Come on!

The Shriners were out in full force. They drove a fleet of Harley Davidson motorcycles in formation, a fleet of go karts (yep, in formation again), a series of strange looking cars that did wheelies in circles, and (I swear by all I know that I am not making this one up!) two toilets. Yes, two commodes with tiny wheels that had a scooter-like handlebar which were motoring up and down the street at a pretty impressive speed – for toilets that is. Even Evan was moved to say:

Well, there’s something you don’t see every day.”

Those shriners.

Say what you will, but those guys looked like they were having the time of their lives and I’ll bet they were. And when you think about it, wouldn’t it be kind of cool to ride in that wheelie car? I’d take my car-sick pills first but I’d like a ride. One old restored car actually contained their leader – The Grand Potentate! Can you believe it? I didn’t think that was actually a real word. I thought it was one of those words we use just for humor or satire. Well, there it is: the real thing. I’ve seen him myself now.

My observation is that if you live in Broken Arrow and have one of the following: a convertible, a classic car, vanity license plates, or a Ford Mustang, you can get a spot in the Rooster Days parade toting a beauty contestant, city official, local weatherman, dance troop, or cub scout pack. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Wal-Mart was there. They brought a trailer load of little kids who distinguished themselves by being the only parade float with real roosters on board. And yes, there were several people behind the float pushing shopping carts. Not the ones with the floppy wheels either. They also drove a semi festooned with fake roosters. I thought they were a nice touch considering the challenges of decorating a semi but I will agree it’s not the sort of thing you’d see on Home & Garden TV.

Erin’s little dance troop was pretty tired by the time they got down to where we were. The weather was glorious; sunny and cool, but if you’re marching, it gets pretty hot. One group of dog enthusiasts were carrying some of the canines who had apparently mutinied early on. One kid tried to peel off and stay with her parents but she was hustled back in line. Actually there were several deserters from various marching/walking groups. Kids would dash off into the sidelines to hug a parent or grandparent and then dash back into position. That’s what’s great about these small town parades.

Here’s an unfortunate Broken Arrow priority: cheerleading. Apparently, most of the community feels that cheerleading is one of the highest callings a young girl can answer to. How unfortunate then that I feel it is one of worst, time-wasting things known to mankind with no redeeming social value whatever. I just keep my mouth shut. But, as a result, there are cheerleading groups for all ages and every one of them marched, jumped, and generally spazzed in the parade. Some of them rode in the convertibles. Others rode (and this is really cool) on a hook and ladder fire truck. Those with fears of heights need not apply.

Having said all these nasty things, I have to say that I had a really good time. If this had been one of the big parades like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, for example, I would never have gone. I would never have bothered to travel, fight for a parking place, fight for a spot to watch the parade, or any of that. As it was, I parked right on Main Street, (in the shade, thank you very much) opened the back of the old minivan and watched the parade in cool, seated comfort. We parked in front of one of the old houses with the front porches which was occupied by the owners which just seems “right” somehow. They operate a guitar shop there so there was pickin’ and grinnin’ to be had. They were also kind enough to let us use their bathroom. I doubt any of those New Yorkers at the Big Parade would have been so accommodating.

Every kid who wanted to had the chance to ride in the parade. Even if it was just a hay wagon towed by a restored 1948 Farmall tractor and they had to share the float with a couple of goats. To a kid that was the last word in entertainment. They were free to dart from the parade to the sidelines for a quick hug from Grandma and then dart back to the floats. There were many, many cool old cars that made me want to have one myself. Until Saturday, I never had the slightest inclination to own a convertible 1957 Thunderbird. Melissa points out that they don’t actually come with the hot babes in them like in the parade. We saw lots of people we know and they saw us and a good time was had by all. What more could you want?

And if you think that a riding lawn mower pulling a little train of wagons (fixed up with cardboard and plywood to look like a little train) filled with waiving children is not worthy of your time, perhaps you should come see one first. Here’s a couple of tips though:

  1. If you’re an old fat guy in a drop-top Caddy, better have a beauty contestant in the car or a poster on your car; otherwise, people will think you just took a wrong turn and wound up in the parade by mistake.
  2. If you’re on a horse, you’ll be at the rear of the parade so as not to disrupt the marching of the bands in front of you. You will refrain from pooping on the pavement but your horse may not.
  3. When the street sweeper comes (after the horses – see item #2) the parade is over.
  4. If you’re Safari Joe (owner of the local wildlife park) and you bring a wolf on a leash and a baby goat on a leash nearby, you’re tempting fate. Maybe nothing will happen but think of the public relations nightmare if something does happen.

I like Safari Joe. Except that he is not an ugly man and all the women within earshot whisper things like “Whoa! He’s hot!” Therefore, I don’t like him much except that he drives a black Hummer. That’s so cool that he’s OK in my book now. In Evan’s book too. Evan and his buddies would like nothing more than to ride in the parade in Safari Joe’s black Humvee. Unless it might be to ride in the parade in a black hummer with a paintball gun popping all their enemies. Joe’s neighbors are a little uneasy too what with all the tigers and such next door to their subdivision. I’ll bet they don’t have any problems with squirrels or possums in their attics though. Still, they say things to the media about their uneasiness at “all them tigers over at the Estes place.” Did you ever see a young mountain lion? They have a look on their faces that says: “Should I shred this guy’s face? … Maybe next time.” Rule #1 about wild animals: don’t let’em get hungry. But…I digress

And so, there you are. I wish there were a parade like that every Saturday. I may take guitar lessons just so I can hang out with those guys on the front porch of the house on Main Street.