Depending on how you look at things it was either the 18th or the 20th anniversary of the bike parade.

If you tend to look at things from a consecutive year viewpoint then it was the 18th anniversary of the bike parade. But if you tend to look at things from a “but this is when it began” point of view then it was the 20th anniversary of the parade.

The first bike parade was held in 2002 which-unless the Supreme Court decides to change how math works-was 20 years ago. However, because of COVID the parade was cancelled in 2020 and 2021.

So, 18th or 20th anniversary. Take your pick.

The official name of the bike parade is the Belle Air Place Neighborhood Fourth of July Bike Parade although it has never been held on the actual Fourth of July so people spend that day blowing things up.

The parade is a chance for all of the neighborhood kids to decorate their bikes – or any objects that move – and ride them for several blocks up our street to the cul-de-sac and back while their parents, depending on the age of their children, either follow closely behind, or watch from  the safety of the parkway that runs along our street.

Later, after the parade everyone meets in the parkway for refreshments.

It’s a neat deal which I had nothing to do with creating.

The bike parade, of course, was created by my wife and Lana who lives across the street. For some reason I seem to remember my wife saying Lana was the one who first came up with the idea for the parade but my memory of what my wife tells me has always been a tad – shall we say – sketchy.

Regardless of who first came up with the idea for the bike parade let’s just say my wife and Lana ran with it.

I remember the day my wife told me about the bike parade as if it were yesterday.

Wife: Mike put down that beer and turn the baseball game off.

Oh, wait, that WAS yesterday.

Here’s the conversation when  my wife first told me about the bike parade went.

Wife: Mike, Lana and I have been thinking.

Me: (To myself) Oh (bad word).

Wife: We think it would be fun to host a Fourth of July bike parade where all the kids in the neighborhood can decorate their bikes and ride them down up our street, to the cul de sac and back. Then everyone can gather in the parkway and have lemonade and cookies. Isn’t that a great idea?

Me: (Coming back into the room after getting a beer) I’m sorry did you say something?

My wife, Laurel Rosenthal, who has been the Parade Grand Marshall for many years and Lana. They are posing in front of Shelby Dale Neely’s Gator driven by Bill Phelps. The Gator with Laurel in it always leads the parade.

As far as responsibilities for the parade go, mine are fairly minor. The first year of the parade our now 24-year-old daughter Emma was four and was still using training wheels on her bike so my main responsibility was to walk behind her and make sure she didn’t fall or get lost.

The next year Emma dropped the training wheels so my main responsibility was to walk behind her and make sure she didn’t fall or get lost.

But after the second year Emma was pretty much on her own so my parade-time responsibilities ease up a bit.

To be honest (and I try to be), as far as my wife is concerned, my most important parade responsibility is to dig out our picnic table, which is always tucked away in the very back of our garage, clean it off and haul it to the parkway so my wife and Lana can decorate it and load it down with snacks.

I hate that picnic table.

First of all it’s old. How old, you ask?

My wife used it when she was a little kid. That’s how old.

What happens is, after the parade, I take the picnic table apart, and put it back in the garage where it stays until the next bike parade. What that means is, as the year goes by more and more stuff gets put in front of the picnic table so when the bike parade rolls around all of that stuff has to be moved so I can get to the table.

My wife loves that picnic table. I, as I think I’ve stated, hate that picnic table.

This year, because, apparently, some people can’t seem to wrap their heads around the need to get vaccinated, COVID is still with us and therefore my wife and Lana decided not to pass out homemade snacks and drinks and instead opted to hand out frozen popsicles and bottled water which led to this heartfelt conversation between my wife me.

Wife: Mike, I hate to tell you this but we don’t need the picnic table this year.

Me: Oh drat and fiddlesticks. I was so looking forward to spending oodles of time moving stuff out of the garage to get to the table. Then cleaning it off and later hauling it back to the garage. I shall miss it ever so much. Truly I will.

Wife: I hate you.

Other than the table, my main job, after the parade is over, is to be seen by my wife  just long enough for her to think I’m being sociable and then disappear to our backyard patio where I can drink beer and watch baseball.

Taken several minutes before the parade as kids, parents and grandparents start lining up. My wife took that picture. I was on our patio.

So what I do is drink beer, watch baseball and then, during commercial breaks, walk around to our front yard, make sure my wife sees me and then I go back to our patio.

The thing is, my wife really doesn’t care that I sit on the patio, drink beer and watch baseball. She just wants me to make the effort to appear to be sociable.

Here I am being sociable with Emma, Nick and Penny. In case you’re wondering Penny is the dog.

I know. I don’t understand her either.

This year Lana’s daughter Katie, who is Emma’s best friend, wasn’t at the parade. Katie, who was five during that first parade back in 2002 recently moved to New York City. Lana didn’t let it show much but I’m certain not having Katie here for the parade was tough.

Emma who now splits her time between Kansas City and Carthage was able to be home for the parade and I think she enjoyed helping my wife and Lana.

Actually none of the kids who rode in that first bike parade are around anymore. Those kids have been replaced by other kids, who have been replaced by other kids, who have been replaced by other kids.

But that’s OK.

It’s the circle of bike parades.