Saturday of Pioneer Days in Twentynine Palms is our favorite day of the 3-day event. Starting the day with pancakes at the fire station and then watching the parade is the best part about Pioneer Days. What began as a novelty for our 2-year old son to have breakfast in the fire station on Adobe Road has become tradition for us. We love arriving to the fire station and being served by the fire fighters and seeing the huge fire engines up close. For $16 our family of four can enjoy a great breakfast with other members of the community.
Our parade-viewing strategy this year is a little different. After trying to view the parade on Adobe Road and baking in the sun, we decided that Twentynine Palms Highway may be a better choice. We parked the car in the public parking behind Papa John’s Pizza and walked a few blocks to the fire station on Adobe Road to have breakfast.
Once our bellies were full of scrambled eggs, sausage, and pancakes from the firehouse we made our way to the parade route. On the way there we saw the Jelly Donut beckoning to us like the sirens in Homer’s “Odyssey.” The highway was already closed for the parade but we looked both ways before we crossed anyway. We were greeted with the wonderful smell of fresh donuts. Once armed with our donut bounty we crossed the highway again to the shaded curb and settled in to watch the parade while feasting on donuts. Parade viewing is more pleasurable with a donut in one hand and a coffee in the other.
Now came the hard part – waiting patiently until the parade starts. This is difficult for kids of all ages. We were close to the beginning of the parade route and could see them lining up into position. The wait was unbearable. My daughter couldn’t wait any longer.
“Can I see what time it is?” She asked for at least the third time since we’ve sat down.
I plucked my cell phone out of my purse and handed it to her. She looked at it.
“It’s 10 o’clock!” She announced.
No sooner had the words left her mouth that the police car at the beginning of the procession lit up it’s lights and blared it’s sirens. We all jumped, startled at the blast of sound. The parade began to move forward. It started exactly on time.
On came the parade. We all stood when the color guard came and men removed their hats. What followed was a representation of the community’s best. The Marines were first. They rolled down Twentynine Palms Highway in a big LAV-25, Humvee, and MTVR. These large armored vehicles were impressive up close. I never appreciated their size passing by caravans of them while driving on the highway.
“Look honey,” said a young mother to her son, “Marines, just like daddy.”
Palm Vista Elementary school and Joshua Tree National Park had representatives in the parade. The Kiwanis Club, the Fraternal Eagles, and the Twentynine Palms Historical Society were also there. The Sky’s the Limit tossed hand fulls of small buttons into the crowd with their logo on it from a fancy convertible. There were also people in the parade who want to be elected to serve the community in November.
Everyone was waving and smiling to those watching them along the street. It’s so neat to see all different members of the community come together representing our city.
This year there was a ton of goodies that were passed out to the audience by those in the parade. My kids got fliers from Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, American Heritage Girls, Trail Life USA, and two Fall festivals put on by local churches Halloween Night. Each flier was accompanied by a piece of candy or two. The kids got so much candy that I commented that we wouldn’t have to go trick-or-treating this year. My children looked up at me in horror not recognizing I was teasing them.
People walked up and down the parade route trying to sell things. The kids looked longingly at the man selling cotton candy and novelty toys. Other kids were lucky because their parents bought them bubble blowers and plastic noisemakers from the cart. My children looked at the cart knowing they couldn’t have anything from it because they chose donuts instead. On his return trip, the man pushing the cart slowed down as he walked past my kids. Smiling at them, he tempted them with the goodies hoping their mom would cave in and buy some pretty junk. I smiled back at him and he kept walking.
We saw my children’s coaches and classmates. I saw my coworkers and students – both former and present. We waved and said hello and got an occasional hug. It’s nice to feel part of the community.
The parade ended, as parades usually do, with emergency vehicles blasting their sirens. Like “the wave” at a large stadium, People stood up and put away their folded chairs as the emergency vehicles passed them by. My large mom-purse was filled with all the goodies that were handed out from the parade participants as we stood and packed up our things to leave.
“We’re going to trade your candy in for a toy, sweetheart” said a mom to her young son.
“That’s a good idea,” I told her. “Otherwise mom and dad would eat it, right?”
“Oh no. It would go straight into the trash!” She replied.
When we got home we dumped all the goodies on the kitchen table and separated the candy from the fliers they were taped to. This candy isn’t going into the trash because I don’t have it in me to be wasteful. All that candy on the table wouldn’t fit in our candy jar. So I asked my kids which ones they liked the least and I took those and set them aside to take to work. My high school students will appreciate them. Throw away your own candy, as for me, I will save it to be appreciated by someone else.
Next year’s Pioneer Days Parade will be just as enjoyable. Especially now that we know that the optimal viewing spot is on the highway. We also know to bring a bag to carry all the goodies and fliers as the parade participants are very generous to kids. Until next year, Twentynine Palms Parade!