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MailTribune.com
  • Fourth of July rituals ground us in small-town Southern Oregon

  • Mostly it's about the sounds, a breeze whipping the flags stationed along Linn Road and Main Street and the whistle and pop of backyard pyrotechnics, that usher in the annual commotion of small-town goodness served up American-style in Eagle Point.
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  • Mostly it's about the sounds, a breeze whipping the flags stationed along Linn Road and Main Street and the whistle and pop of backyard pyrotechnics, that usher in the annual commotion of small-town goodness served up American-style in Eagle Point.
    Folks come from around the area to fill up on a large helping of that small-town flavor. Our Fourth is a present-day revival of what makes this country great — a reunion for all of us who hold dear the pure pleasures of a simpler time, community spirit and deep-fried elephant ears.
    Vendors line Main Street with steamy hot dogs, cherry snow cones and billows of cotton candy, which drive parents to spit on napkins and wipe sticky, pink residue from children's faces.
    It's the 4th of July, and this is Eagle Point. I hear the squeak and crunch of folding chairs in gravel as parade-goers find their viewing spots. At 11 a.m., a police siren will announce the forward-ho of some 85 to 90 entrants in this year's parade, organized by Suzi Collins. The theme is "America Volunteers."
    People will stand and remove their hats as a color guard passes. Engines purr as the '49 Fords and shiny Corvettes roll by, while proud owners smile and wave to the crowd. The distinctive clatter of hoof-clops will follow, as the sheriff's posse moseys by on horseback — followed in turn by the scrape of the humble pooper-scooper's shovel against pavement.
    My daughter, Emily, raised on EP parades, recalls the following, —¦The anticipation of the fire (water) truck coming through, spraying the crowd and the squeals of laughter when it finally did. The mingling of voices over hot streets and the sound of snap-pops as children strolled by." She's returning this year to renew the memories.
    The EP parade remains charmingly the same. We wouldn't have it otherwise — knowing that we have farmers on classic tractors, handmade floats with waving children, and a high school band ahead of us.
    Be sure to stop and see the Lions — Club, that is — to buy a paper plate with your name on it for a chance to win cash. More on that shortly. Throughout the day (and into night), Whistling Petes and Golden Shower Fountains spray from the powder-scarred driveways, with friends and family hunkered around to remind us of how much there is to celebrate.
    When the sun hangs low, we'll walk to the Eagle Point High School stadium for the big fireworks extravaganza. There's a pre-fireworks show, including singer Frank Ricci serenading the crowd with favorites from The Great American Songbook.
    Leon Sherman has long been the faithful emcee of the fireworks show. In fact, Emily and I agree that Leon IS the voice of the Eagle Point Fourth. He and his wife, Edith, are the grand marshals for this year's parade in recognition of the care and time they have given to the community.
    The show will be a good one. That we know. At intermission, our plates purchased earlier will be flung onto the football field with hundreds of others. As we crane our necks to be the first to spot them, five skydivers will gradually appear out of the deep blue and land among the plates. Each will choose one (never mine) and each lucky bum whose plate is chosen will take home cash.
    The second half of the show delivers the rapid-fire rainbow of sizzling shells and sonic booms overhead, while kids wear glo-sticks around their necks. We'll tell each other the show seems better every year.
    After the stadium has emptied, and the lawn chairs are stowed, periodic pops and sizzles from the diehards signal the finish to a perfect day. Eventually, we'll sleep, perchance to dream of winning the old lawn mower race from bygone Fourths.
    Happy Independence Day, America.
    Peggy Dover is a freelance writer who works from a 1900 farmhouse in Eagle Point. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.
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