It is my humble opinion that if Norman Rockwell were alive today, he’d be living in the Upper Delaware River Valley. Rockwell, who was a 20th century American painter and illustrator, enjoyed a broad popular appeal in the United States for his reflection of American culture, and is most famous for his cover illustrations of everyday life scenarios he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine for more than four decades. I can neither draw nor paint, but can often be seen around the region with my camera in hand, striving to capture images of country life, and this past weekend provided many opportunities to do just that.
Some of my city slicker friends still mock, but my enthusiasm for the parades that march down Main Street USA cannot be dampened (rain or shine) and the cavalcades continue to enthrall. My first stop this weekend was at the 10th annual Livingston Manor, NY Trout Parade, which stepped out in grand style. The website (www.troutparade.com ) promised “a very fishy event, with wacky marching bands, funny floats, processional puppets, musical performances and a whole lot of fun.” Just when I thought I had seen it all, the trout parade exploded this year with more floats, more fish and more folks than any previous year. The River Reporter was on hand to help the crowd reflect on the event and Dharma did her doggone best to entertain the kids as I snapped pics of them posing for the “front page” of the paper. To see those shots, and pics of the wildly entertaining parade, visit our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/theriverreporter ) to share and tag your friends.
I’m no Norman Rockwell, but he was on my mind as I wended my way through the streets of Callicoon, NY (www.visitcallicoon.com ) the next day, doing my best to create a photo journal of the 17th annual Callicoon Tractor Parade, which is (IMHO) a visually striking tribute to Americana. Hundreds of tractors snaked their way through Main Street, as master of ceremonies Jesse Ballew once again announced the make, model, driver and year. “This is my 16th,” he told me in between Farmall’s and John Deere’s “I’ve only missed one in all these years.” The tractors are a show in themselves, ranging in age and condition, but it’s the families riding them that are the star attraction. Infants on laps, toddlers in tow and teens at the wheel provided me with image after image, and I can only hope that some of the pictures come close to representing the celebration of family values, farm livin’ and the simple things in life that our neighbors honor and visitors marvel at when they come to call.
All told, I took over 400 shots of the tractor parade alone, and more than 9,000 people have already glanced at them online. Facebook fan Allen Dernbach comments that “this is always a great day... The best of all is that the kids are included in everything, which I hope carries the parade for many years to come.” Carl Petersen weighed in as well, noting that he “can still smell the mixture of old carbureted gas engines and diesel,” summing up the parade with a pithy “smelly, but fun.” Loriel Sullivan’s, “OMG—I love this,” over a pic of her friend sums it up nicely, along with Laurie Horan Keeler’s sentimental note on a photo of her son. “I love you, Herman,” it says. “I’m so proud to be your mom.”
For once (take note, it might not happen again) I’m at a loss for words and happy to sit back and read what others have to say about their friends, family, tractors and trout. While we honor tradition, new social media has opened a door for so many to share, and it’s my privilege to be a small cog in a very large wheel of community spirit that continues to march toward the future, while honoring the past. To all who make these parades come to life, I thank you. Norman Rockwell would be proud of your sons and daughters, too. Can’t wait to see the next parade, coming to a small town near you.
Here's a video of the Trout Parade: