I was standing only 100 yards away from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario 363 days ago.
I will spend Canada Day 2012 in my hometown of Marietta, among my fellow Mariettans.
No offense to the people of Georgia, since I myself grew up in this state, but going from being in the company of royalty to being no where near royalty is kind of a step down. Let’s be honest here. When was the last time you saw a tabloid newspaper plastering an Average Joe and Jane’s faces on its cover under the headline “When will they make the heir and the spare?”
We are about to enter a very patriotic week for North America. Canadians celebrate Canada Day (the anniversary of its founding) on Sunday, while Americans celebrate the Fourth of July/Independence Day/Excuse-To-Play-With-Semi-Dangerous-Explosives Day three days later.
We’re essentially entering what I am hereby proclaiming as Canamerica Week. It’s part Canada and part America.
I want to reflect back on Canada Day 2011 for a moment. I know I’ve written about it before, but just indulge me here.
One of the things that has stuck in my mind about that celebration on Parliament Hill is the overall sense of everyone coming together and overcoming any political differences that might have separated them on any other day.
There were all of the people laughing and dancing in the streets throughout the afternoon. Some people were waiving huge Canadian flags in the middle of street parties. Then there was just a general sense of euphoria later on “The Hill” while all of these Canadian musicians, ranging from rock groups to “First Nations” groups, performed and fireworks exploded over the Parliament Building.
With this being Canada of course many of the fireworks exploded in bright flashes of red and white light.
Some overly giddy girl who must have been in her early 20’s came up to me as I was leaving Parliament Hill after the evening festivities and asked if she could put a “Canada” sticker on me.
You don’t see those kinds of big celebrations that bring people together in a sense of unity too often in the United States these days. You get the small town parades, but those are little more than people showing up, cheering for a parade and immediately going home. Atlanta dumped its big Fourth of July parade but it still has the fireworks show at Lenox Square Mall.
That has the appeal of over-accessorized driftwood however.
There is the Peachtree Road Race but my idea of a perfect unifying Fourth of July event does not include hanging out with sweaty, smelly people who are gasping for air after running 26 miles.
My favorite Fourth of July would have to be two years ago when I took a day trip up to Helen. I got to float from shop to shop in the downtown Alpine Village area and take some great photographs. There were horse drawn carriages that were pulled by horses dressed up in cute patriotic outfits. People drifted down the Chattahoochee River in inner tubes.
You could duck into the Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen and buy a candy apple or you could run across the street to Granny Funnel Cake and walk out with a tasty pasty.
It’s best to get out of the big cities and head for the small towns where you can see Americans just enjoying themselves. People can enjoy themselves in the big city but the enjoyment is eventually broken by car horns honking and people showing a complete abandonment of civility in an effort to be the first person to get out of town. It is the polar opposite of the Canadians as they left their big city celebration.
My advice is to just find your perfect place to display your patriotism. You might even consider making it into a week-long Canamerica party to celebrate Canada Day and the Fourth of July.
Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.