Monday, September 7, 2009

Walking in the Lemont Labor Day Parade

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Walking in a parade is nothing like sitting on the sidelines waiting for politicians to come by and throw candy at your kids. It's more fun.

I actually joined my wife and son as they walked in the Lemont Labor Day Parade to promote a program called "Umbrellas for Peace" through the First Church of the Nazarene in Lemont where Alison coaches dodgeball and baseball and Aaron plays both. I'm not much of a player nor a coach although I did learn much last Spring during the White Sox training camp Nazarene hosted.

My job was to hold the bucket of candy, which is a critically important part of any parade these days. I've sat at my fair share of parades and enjoyed watching the politicians walk past and lobbed candy at me. I think a few actually pitched the candy like a Palestinian throwing a rock at an assaulting Israeli soldier, trying to hurt me. For good reason, of course.

But this time, the parade was more fun. First, thanks to the Republicans and President Bush, Global Warming has cooled the summer so this Labor Day wasn't as sweltering as has been past Labor Days.

Second, and most important, when you walk in a parade, you don't have to suffer through all the politicians who butt in at the front of the line to get their election licks in. This parade had Republican U.S. Congressman Mark Kirk, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama against Democrat Alexi "The banker" Giannoulias.

I didn't like Kirk in the past, but I got to meet Kirk by accident after the parade at the StoneHouse Pub, a restaurant in downtown Lemont. Kirk was very friendly, courteous and kind. I told him "Hi, I'm a Democrat who doesn't like you but my wife is a Republican." He responded with some humor push back saying, usually it's the other way around. I could actually vote for Kirk if he would moderate just a little, support Obama on healthcare, be fairer on the Middle East and push for peace there, and admit that the Iraq War was Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

I could almost support Kirk if it is a contest against Giannoulias, who doesn't seem to care that as State Treasurer he has the power to pressure banks to force them to reduce credit card interest rates. He thinks the problem belongs entirely to the consumers. What else would a banker think?

Kirk was also walking with U.S. Congresswoman Judy Biggert, my representative who is very unrepresentative. A few years back I wrote asking if she would meet with some of the district's Arab American community leaders and her office called me to say "No!" Can't wait till she's out of office, but I have to say she sure has aged a lot.

My wife said she say Pat Maher with his supporters also ahead of us declaring his intention to run for Cook County Commissioner against the exceptional Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman. Gorman, with the backing of many Commissioners on the Cook County Board, refused to give up in the fight to reverse the repressive 1 percent Todd Stroger Sales tax winning my support for a long time to come. I think Maher would be better off getting his Orland Fire Protection District in better shape and maybe cracking down on his battalion Chiefs, including my former friend Randy Reeder stop driving his taxpayer funded gas-guzzling SUV outside of the district.

But that would be too much to ask, I guess.

There were a few others.

The Parade wound around the downtown area and was packed with people. We started with 2 dozen buckets of bubble gum and I realized that the kids go crazy for the candy. But, if candy is what you want, you have to sit at the start of the parade, not the end. Almost every piece of candy had been handed out by the time we turned the halfway point and were on the final stretch of downtown street.

I also asked my son to hand the candy out to the kids because walking and watching as the candy flew in the air -- even softly lobbed by the "hander-outers" as they are called -- the candy still boynked the heads of a lot of people. I mean boynked heads. When you're sitting in one spot, you don't get the same violent perspective watching a parade as you do as you walk past and people wave and then they get hit on the head with a piece of candy going 60 miles an hour.

I kept stopping to introduce my son Aaron to the applause of the crowds as the district's "future congressman." But Aaron is too conscientious and too considerate of other people to be a good politician. Although who knows, Wii and Play Station may come out with "Pay-to-Play" video games and that could change things -- hopefully not!

But it was fun and the crowd was pleasant, and the food at the StoneHouse Pub was FANTASTIC! I'm going there again for those great burgers filled with bacon and green olives (for my Atkins all protein diet.) And you want to know something else, the people in Lemont are so friendly. Here I am, a Middle Eastern guy giving candy to their kids and they're cheering me. How much better can that get only days before the 8th Anniversary of Sept. 11?

-- Ray Hanania

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