White Mountain Summer Homes in Pinetop, Arizona has to be one of the most beautiful places in Arizona. The streets wind among the cabins with pine and oak trees in abundance everywhere. The cabins are spaced so everyone has a lot of privacy. A golf course meanders through the area and, if lucky, one can occasionally see elk, deer and bear. Hummingbirds take over in the summer, flitting from feeder to feeder. Squirrels race around with their long tails in the air. Blue jays bark at each other, woodpeckers peck the trees and occasionally, a cardinal will appear. The sky is a gorgeous blue and the billowing white clouds build up every afternoon. It is a tranquil, peaceful setting and a precious place for healing.
Five of my adult children have places there. I enjoyed going up three different times this past summer. The best visit was when we went up on July 2nd with a carload of items to use for the Stanley Tribe’s entry into the July 4th parade. We had cardboard for signs with sticks to hold them, blue tee shirts with the logo “U.S. vs. THEM” for all of the adults and teens, fancy red and blue sun glasses, lots of red, white and blue crepe paper for stuffing into the rolls of chicken wire to put on the golf cart and Bob’s big truck and trailer.
The parade was started several years ago by some of the people who lived on Bull Frog Loop. The parade originated with only one or two families on a trailer waving American flags and singing patriotic songs. Over the years it has grown like “Topsy.” There must have been at least 30 entries this year. The only stipulation to enter was ownership of a cabin within the community. The judges, appropriately dressed in black robes and wearing white curly wigs, have to live on that very street–Bull Frog Loop.
The timing was perfect for our theme because the US soccer team was at the Soccer World Cup in Rio. The U. S. team had just won their first game, and as patriotic Americans we were convinced the U.S. team would go on to glory. Oops! They lost the second game to Belgium. We had to change our theme. So we became the SORE LOSERS.
Bob brought over his truck and boat trailer to the Fleury-Meyers cabin. We all assembled in the garage, and we started decorating to loud music blaring from the radio. The little ones stuffed the chicken wire with crepe paper, but it kept falling out. So the moms and dads followed behind and repaired the hanging strips. Liz made scads of signs for each one to carry on the parade walk: “BOYCOT BELGIAN BEER,” “BELCH ON BELGIUM,” “ONLY WAFFLERS EAT BELGIAN WAFFLES,” “SORE LOSERS” too soon became “SORE BOOZERS.
￼A special sign was made for Parker, 6, to carry: “FREE BEER FOR JUDGES.” (They refused our bribes but enjoyed Parker’s sweet smile.)
We all gathered early on the 4th dressed in the blue shirts and other patriotic attire, convinced we had a chance to win a trophy for the first time. We had to be at the starting point in line by 10 am. Most of the family were walking, but I was helped into the passenger seat of a golf cart, thank goodness. I think there were 22 of us ready to face the challenge of other floats and decorated bicycles galore.
We announced our presence by blowing on Vuvuzelas, those noisy horns that only make one note, and it is not pleasant to hear. We got in line and then the walkers started chanting over and over, “We believe that we will win.” I secretly thought this would ruin our chances for winning even last place. We were totally noisy and obnoxious. It didn’t help that we were all holding red cups with “Sore Losers” printed on the side, filled with beer from a keg on the trailer. Standing in the trailer was my youngest son, Mark, handing out filled cups to any takers along the way.
For a few moments I felt like a coed of long ago. It brought back many happy memories. We stopped in front of the judges, did our noisy chants, smiled, tried to bribe them with beer, and then followed the other entries around the whole rocky road one more time. By then my little 18 month old great grandson had collapsed in a deep sleep on my lap. I was beginning to fade, too, thinking, “What am I doing here anyway?”
Suddenly we were stopped right in front of the judges. My adult daughters just knew we had won. They stood waiting expectantly. The judges started passing out awards for various entrees. We clapped politely, gritting our teeth
silently. Then we heard the magic words: SORE LOSERS winner of the JUDGES CHOICE AWARD!! We screamed, yelled and danced in delight. We were awarded the little ceramic bullfrog. Yea!!
We chanted and carried on all the way back to the cabin. No one wanted to leave. So we gathered a few hours later with an impromptu potluck hotdog supper and spent our time reliving the fun we had had together that day. The adults started planning for next year’s parade and how they would win.
￼Great Grandma went to bed!
This article originally appeared in Roadrunner Extra!, the resident newsletter of Beatitudes Campus.