Holidays are pretty special in my family. We have unique traditions to determine who opens the first present on Christmas morning or, now that we are older, we may celebrate three holidays in one week because of work schedules and proximity. I am the first to admit that we have unconventional ways of celebrating holidays, but no matter what we decide to do for birthdays or Thanksgiving, the one requirement is that we celebrate together.
I have participated in the Lake Highlands Exchange Club 4th of July parade for the past four years. We have passed out candy, fans, beach balls or prizes. We have driven the church van, walked or just decorated cars, but no matter what our “float” looks like or what we pass out, walking in the parade has become a staple in my celebration of the 4th of July. I think I would be lying if I said these past two years haven’t had a deeper impact on me.
To be completely honest, participating in the parade is not as easy as just showing up and walking with a big smile. That is definitely part of it, but there are beach balls to be ordered, fans to be designed on a deadline, decorations to get out of storage, and logistics to be discussed. Trust me when I say we spend quite a bit of time determining how to inflate and transport 250 Feed Lake Highlands beach balls. We have agonized over having too many or running out of things to pass out along the parade route, and we are still trying to figure out what works to make things bigger and better each year.
But once the floats start lining up on the morning of the 4th, and members from The New Room, LHUMC and FLH program members join us at the float, all the details seem to become secondary.
This year we ran out of 500 fans and 250 beach balls before we made it to Lake Highlands High School. We lost a few of our car decorations along the route. We used trucks instead of the church bus, which presented different storage challenges, but we were together.
We had a team of youth from The New Room volunteer to blow up the beach balls. The Homework Club kids wore silly food hats and passed out all of the fans advertising a FLH fundraiser and a LHUMC Children’s Ministry program. Members from The New Room and LHUMC walked in the parade together pushing the Food Distribution shopping carts, and honestly, it was such a celebration.
Feed Lake Highlands challenges the community that TOGETHER we can end hunger in Lake Highlands, and while we were not passing out food, acting out a Bible verse, or driving kids to camp, the 4th of July parade was such a picture of celebrating ministry together and bringing the community alongside us.