Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Men In Lawnchairs

Where I last left you, it was the 4th of July parade in our hometown.

You can take a historic tour of our city on this trolley. I think that sounds fun.
I know, history nerd.

It has been a tradition that roughly the same people gather at the same corner to watch the parade each year.

Monte always sits near a friend, Kevin, so they can swap jokes and comments about the floats, politics and current events.

It’s a tradition that all the high school class reunions happen over the 4th of July holiday. Each class reunion has a float in the parade for the classmates to ride on.

Monte and Kevin LOVE to yell out just how old 
the people on the float are.

Those are our friend’s parents in the front seat of the golf cart.
When Monte and Kevin hollered out their age, Joan was quick to yell back
that she was young for her grade.
Love it!

I think one year, they got the age wrong 
and were quickly corrected.

No one thinks Monte and Kevin are funnier than Monte and Kevin.

They are amusing, I’ll give them that.

Last year, when we were packing up the chairs after the parade was over, they mentioned making a podcast of their parade commentary. 

We all laughed and left it at that.

A week or so before the 4th,  Kevin contacted Monte about “going official” with their from-the-sidelines commentary.

He decided they should be called Men In Lawnchairs (with a sign to prove it) and have a sound system for all to enjoy in their humorous parade banter.

They decided to meet before the parade 
and go over material.

The wives decided to put some parameters on the Men In Lawnchairs.

Don’t be mean.

Don’t go political.

Monte carried a little notebook around so that he could write jokes and one liners in as the inspiration hit.

After dinner he’d go out on the patio and “try them out” on me.

I had him scratch A LOT of jokes out pertaining to King George.

(Yes, there was more than one.)

I explained that just because we were reading “Alexander Hamilton” 
and watching TURN like the history nerds that we are, 
doesn’t mean anyone else was.

Monte decided that he didn’t need to fill the entire notebook.

He wanted his commentary to be “spontaneous" and "ad-libbed."

I got nervous.

Two guys showing up with microphones, chairs, a sign and an amp uninvited?

I got really nervous.

I told a few key people of The Men In Lawnchairs plan with the hopes that they’d try to talk him out of it.


They thought it was a GREAT idea and started offering material for his notebook.


The night before the parade was our block party.

Monte openly talked about his parade commentary intentions.

Again, it was received well.

Too well.

The weather forecast was grim with the threat of a thunder storm during the parade.

I secretly prayed for GOD’S PROVISION to literally wash this idea out by canceling the parade.


We woke up to gray skies 
but no rain.

Monte walked down to the parade super early with his notebook and chair to “set up.”

I rode my bike down later and parked it in a spot where I could make a clean get away if the Men In Lawnchairs started to bomb.

Meaning stink up the place with their material.

Not kablooey.

Either way, I was NOT going down with the ship.

It was my 4th of July too and I did NOT want to spend it cleaning eggs off my house or picking toilet paper out of my trees because of Monte and Kevin’s “spontaneous" and "ad-libbed" commentary.

It generally takes the parade about 30 minutes to get to our location so there was time for trivia and parade float rules and regulations to be announced.

Men In Lawnchairs just seemed LOUD as people filed in.

Some moved their chairs quickly after realizing there were two guys on microphones next to them.

Some stood, chairs in hand, waiting to see if they wanted to stay or go.

Some laughed right away.

Some moved closer.

I stayed back, hands on my bike, ready to take off like the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz the second the crowd turned on the Men in Lawnchairs.

I was sure down to my core that the crowd would turn on them.

I was not going to handle that well 
so my plan was to pedal like the wind 
and put a For Sale sign in our front yard.

Our girls and their friends couldn’t take it and took off to find seats down the street.

See ya!

But the crowd didn’t turn on the Men In Lawnchairs.

It helped that all the military groups were first in the parade and Monte and Kevin were able to thank them, some by name, when listed on the side of their vehicles like the man who was in Pearl Harbor.

I think they earned the crowd’s respect early.


Monte confessed his fear of clowns and announced that the word clown was French for “mentally ill.”

A group of college guys hung around nearby saying things like,

“These guys are great!”

People laughed.

People waved their friends over so they could hear.

Our neighbors couldn’t believe Monte actually was doing it.

One commented that the sign made the whole thing legitimate to her.

Good call, Kevin!

The people in the parade were confused by Men In Lawnchairs.

Some just smiled and waved.

Others came up and talked with them.

Abraham Lincoln grabbed the microphone from Monte.

I’m not sure what he said but something about an umbrella.

I guess at some point Kevin mentioned that Mary Todd was crazy.
Abe may or may not have given him the stink eye.

We noticed that if it was a martial arts group,

they’d stop right in front of Men In Lawnchairs to show their wood breaking skills.

Or if it was a street float,

they’d make sure every bell and every whistle was in full function as 
they drove by Men In Lawnchairs.

One of the neighborhood floats.
Picture by Beth Markwood.

Right in front of us, the doors behind that cross opened and revealed an operating room.
The surgeons were “operating” on a girl impaled by a flag!
She waved.
Picture by Beth Markwood.

Even the OSU alumni band made sure the batons were tossed and caught right in front of,

you guessed it, 

Men In Lawnchairs.

It wasn’t until later that we figured out they must’ve thought Men In Lawnchairs were parade judges.

It made for a great show for our
little corner of the parade route!

About halfway through the parade, there was a pause between floats.

I decided to pedal home fast to use the bathroom.

Just as I was pulling up to our house,

I saw the Shriners in their little cars buzzing up the road 
by our house.

It was a bit surreal.

By the time I grabbed my camera, I only captured three of the Shriners
but the entire street was filled with them.
For a moment it was like I was living in a Dr. Seuss book
 and Thing 1 and Thing 2 and The Lorax were all 
going to be waiting for me 
when I walked into the house.

Which would terrify me, 
by the way.

When I rode back to the parade, I saw people leaving and asked if the parade was already over.

They said there had been a delay due to a child falling off of a float.

As terrible as the thought of that, Kevin and Monte used the extra time to interview people from the crowd.

One was McDaniel’s friend, Ser, visiting from Pennsylvania.

Men In Lawnchairs doing what they do best.

After the parade, I took off to start lunch.

Monte said people came up to he and Kevin and thanked them for entertaining them. Some introduced them to their friends from out of town who said it made the parade for them.

No one booed Monte as he walked home.

We hosted a lunch cookout for friends from out of town after the parade. 

Most of our friends missed Men In Lawnchairs but were completely in favor of it and thrilled to hear every detail.

One was disappointed I didn’t record it and offered up better equipment for the next year.



I thought this was a one and done deal.

Now they are talking bigger and better.

With possible t-shirts.

The girls gathered with friends at the park to watch the fireworks. Kids from school started approaching them about Men In Lawnchairs.

They quoted them!

They thought they were awesome!

They thought McDaniel and Ellie were awesome 
because their dad was in fact one of the Men In Lawnchairs!

Ellie said it was the closest she’d ever 
come to actually feeling famous.

Who would’ve ever thought…

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The Epicness of 4th of July

4th of July in our town is epic.

Not Bitmoji me in a black pantsuit  holding a flag riding an eagle into fireworks epic.
But epic nonetheless.

I have an entire box of decorations and dishes.

We each have a red, white and blue wardrobe that we add to continuously. 

Monte tried to throw away an old board from the garage but I saved it, cut
and painted it for more 4th of July decorations.

McDaniel babysits a girl on our street.

They came over last week and I could tell they were bored so I gave them paint and brushes and told them to touch up the stars on our driveway.

The stars in our driveway.

I came outside to find this:

They decided to paint an entire flag in our driveway!

I talked them into making it smaller than they had originally planned.

The bear paw above the flag was a fundraiser for the football team. Our high school mascot is the Golden Bear.

They signed their work.

Around here, the 4th of July isn’t just about fireworks.

There are the fireworks downtown called Red, White and Boom that is always earlier than the 4th and kicks off the season.

There is our block party that is always the evening of the 3rd.

There are breakfast gatherings BEFORE the parade the morning of the 4th.

And then the parade, which starts at 9:00 am. 

And after the parade lunch cookouts 
and before the fireworks dinner cookouts 
and then the fireworks.

Since most of the streets are closed for block parties,

the mode of transportation is walking, 
riding bikes 
or renting a golf cart for the weekend.

It’s a very “on vacation” kinda vibe.

Monte and I just watched a special on TV about all the happenings in our city during the Independence Day holiday. Our town was highlighted for a few different reasons, one being the parade float competitions.

Each street or organization can enter a float into the parade that will be judged and announced at the fireworks in the park party later in the evening.

Oh yeah, you can rent tables in the park to watch the fireworks 
and there is a table decorating contest.

It’s quite competitive.

The float decorating, not the table decorating.
(Although, I have no idea. I’m sure there are rivalries there too.)

There is a parade theme that is announced in the spring.

There are brainstorming meetings.

And sketches. 

SOURCE:  Columbus Dispatch

Funds are allocated.

People work so hard.

SOURCE:  Columbus Dispatch

Look how the above float turned out:

And the digger part MOVED up and down!

People are secretive and protective of their floats.

One street acquired an old bus that they use 
as the base of their float each year.

A diner theme!
I love seeing what Fairfax Road comes up with each year.

It’s a beautiful thing.

And it’s been a tradition since something like 1938.

Our street participated in the float building when our girls were younger.

We even won honorable mention one year which got us a snazzy sign on our street.

Oh my goodness, was that really before Ellie was born?!
I know we did floats after that, we just didn’t win.

Some streets look like this:

SOURCE:  Columbus Dispatch
Show offs.

The parade route is about 3 miles down Northwest Boulevard.

Conveniently, it is at the end of our street so we just walk to the parade every year with chairs in hand, although we usually stand most of the time, talking and visiting with people.

Other people don’t have the luxury of that convenience, so they, starting sometimes 2 weeks before the parade, set up their chairs along the grassy area between the sidewalk and the street. Monte calls this the swail.

The city calls this theirs so it is fair game for anyone to stake a sitting area claim.

Even if it is right in front of your house.

Another reason people start setting chairs up so early.

Real estate listings on Northwest Boulevard always include 
the added amenity of being “on the parade route."

We live in a pretty safe area, so the chairs stay put except for maybe a few teenage pranks of swiping them and tossing them into a yard a few doors down.

Monte and I have always thought about rearranging them. 

Taking the chairs from across the street and switching them with the ones from the other side.

But people take the parade watching VERY seriously and I wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt.

And by anyone, of course, I mean Monte.

He’d be the one in the dark of the night switching chairs 
and be caught red-handed in some sort of booby trap 
and recorded for all to see on You Tube.

Speaking of…

I haven’t even gotten to the point of my post yet.

Monte and a friend decided to do something a little different during the parade this year.

But since the post set-up was far too long, 
I’ll write a separate post about that.

Stay tuned!

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