Every small town has their 4th of July traditions. The Napa Valley celebrates like many others; parties around the pool, BBQ with friends and family followed by a night of fireworks whether put on by one of the big local wineries and seen from afar or on the street in front of our house with the entire neighborhood watching the event.
But as a rural farming community, the most indelible part of our local 4th of July celebration always includes a morning watching the annual Silverado Parade on the main street of Calistoga, where we know half the participants on the floats and wave to our neighbors the Fire Chief and the Mayor. After the parade, we walk down the street to spend the rest of the day at the Napa County Fair at the Calistoga Fairgrounds. For days before hand, we try to be the first one to see the Cotton Candy or Corn Dog trailers driving through town, followed closely by the huge trucks hauling the “Tilt-A-Whirl” rides and trailers for the carneys. 4-H children prepare their animals for the show ring, grandmas bake their award-winning pies and the teenagers make dates to sit in the race-track grandstands and listen to featured 2nd string fair-circuit bands. Rivaling drinking habits at “crush” throughout the Napa Valley, much more beer than wine is enjoyed during the fair. Through the years our children won dozens of goldfish in the ping-pong ball toss, all of which were named Jaws and by week’s end were floating in their make-shift bowls.
Our favorite memory was of Jennifer’s participation in the parade as part of a local entry of women calling themselves “Moms Gone Mad”, many years ago. In the late 1970’s, when fewer than 80 wineries existed in the Napa Valley, about a dozen young wine-industry moms worked for weeks to perfect their marching routine, wielding mops and brooms and buckets, pushing strollers and carrying babes in arms. In the same vein as Pasadena’s Do-Dah Parade (a spoof on the Rose Parade) it was a hilarious, finely choreographed marching routine that took far too long to move along the main street between fire trucks with their sirens blaring and the Girl Scout float, but was the hit of the parade. And in the lead, eight months pregnant, was Jennifer with a mop, being pushed in a wheel chair and guiding the band of misfit moms. Thirty-three years later, we are celebrating our daughter’s birthday next month. Happy birthday, Meg!