Norman Rockwell must have had a mom like this
No terrorist or 9th District Court of Appeals judge is going to interfere with how Elizabeth Furry celebrates the Fourth of July.
Had you been at the Johnson Lane General Store on Sunday evening, you would have found Furry and her friend Kristy Sardella of Dayton, a former Johnson Lane neighbor, herding 50 kids on bikes, skateboards, Roller blades and scooters (and their parents) and two horse-drawn carriages (with horses) into what she hopes will become an annual holiday parade.
“My husband and I did this two years ago — I wimped out last year — but I knew this summer, with the whole 9-11 thing, we would want to do it again,” she said.
So at 6 p.m., with a horse-drawn carriage at the lead and another bringing up the rear, the official Johnson Lane Independence Day Parade set off down Clapham Road to ride, walk, skate and roll about a mile and a half to the neighborhood park.
On a hot afternoon, Johnson Lane rivals Riyadh. Clapham Road is paved, but there is a slight incline, so by the time the kids rolled into the park, they were ready for snow cones (ice purchased with a $20 gift certificate donated by Raley’s). Her husband, Matt, was in charge of cranking out refreshments.
“Even though it was 100 degrees, everybody stayed the course,” Furry said. “The horses were really great because they kept everybody from racing ahead like they did last time.”
Furry had bigger plans for the parade, but she ran out of time to book the Boy Scouts, and the sheriff’s office told her it takes six weeks to officially close the road.
“They just told us to keep everybody to the right and we did,” she said.
Parade participants ranged from newborns in strollers to teenagers on skate boards. Parents walked with their children and pretty girls threw peanuts and candy to the 10 or so families along the route who set up lawn chairs to watch the parade pass by.
“I would like to have had more people watching on the side of the road,” she said. “But there is a pretty good stretch there where there are no houses at all.”
The Heart of the Home moms group provided blue ribbons for everybody and after the parade, kids had free carriage rides in the Johnson Lane Park for about an hour and a half, courtesy of Del Tanner.
“Del couldn’t make it, but he donated the horses and the carriages. We had a great, good time,” she said. “Neighbors met each other and we even had families from the Ranchos and Genoa show up. All the parents thanked me and everybody was so generous.”
Furry’s three daughters, Loagan, 10, Jessica, 8, and Bailey, 6, can’t wait to see what their mom is going to do next, whether it’s the Independence Day parade or the Star-Spangled Christmas.
“They think it’s great,” she said. “A couple of older kids were saying, `This is stupid,’ but my girls were sticking up for me. “
She home-schools her daughters and each class day begins with the Pledge of Allegiance.
“I really wanted to do some posters that said, `We pledge allegiance to the flag …’ I have serious concerns about what’s happening in our country. We’re hoping to keep patriotism alive, especially with our children.”
When Furry and her family moved to the area three years ago, she was surprised there were no July 4 parades.
“I was actually shocked that downtown Minden and Gardnerville had nothing like this on July 4. They’re so cute. If I lived there, I would be doing this stuff all the time,” she said.
Like all busy people, Furry vows to get an earlier start next year. She hopes to add a fire truck and a dignitary or two.
“I can see this thing getting bigger,” she said. “I need more volunteers and I would like to get some corporate sponsors. I’ve got my eye on Starbucks.”
But the core of the parade will always be the kids on their bikes, scooters, skateboards strollers, and Roller blades riding side-by-side with their parents.
“I wanted to reenact that old time, old-fashioned, Norman Rockwell feeling,” Furry said. “It’s a corny, small little thing, but it is fun.”
Sheila Gardner is the night desk editor of the Nevada Appeal.