Every year during the Labor Day holiday my wife trundles me off to watch our local parade. We walk a mile, select a spot of grass on the parkway, lay out a mat and watch things stroll, zoom, and march past. This year a boy in a scout troop carried a handmade sign with one word on it, fishing.
We need a parade, a float or two, with lots and lots of kids with signs saying, fishing.
I can see it, thirty fly fishermen all decked out in sunglasses, hats, waders and boots, and like synchronized swimmers, choreographed casting using those short training rods with the orange yarn, chanting: backcast, forward cast, whuh! Steeple cast, roll cast, Belgian cast, whuh!
Imagine, if you would, a big black F150 towing a drift boat with music blaring from speakers while a guide tosses fish shaped candies from the deck. We could get the Shriners involved, instead of magic carpets zooming in figure eights they'd have little boats built on a go cart chassis. And behind each act, a group of kids with a sign, I fish. Goosebumps, right?
I didn't see one outdoor sports store represented at the parade, no Bass Pro, Dicks, Orvis, or Cabelas, No trout unlimited, ISA, not even a single angling club or group. Think of the float a Musky group could make, think giant crank bait being towed by a truck, awesome!
I watched martial arts groups kick and run by. Charity groups from MDA to food pantries, strolled by, politicians shook hands and handed out stickers. But no fish shaped stickers, no yeti coolers converted to Cruiz’n coolers and driven by guys wearing vests and hats festooned with flies or lures, and no one was passing out stickers saying, protect our waters.
Tying groups could toss out feather boas. We could have a Buff group dance to music, showing all the different ways you can wear a buff. Think entomology and people could dress up in bug costumes and throw bug shaped candy - look people eat tootsie rolls, why not sugary bugs? We could make a drum line with bamboo rod makers equipped with short lengths of culms that they smack in rhythm to rap lyrics; "hey yo, we know, yo,yo,yo how to wrap and plane yo! No crotch grabbing guys, this is a family parade!
I admit there might be some problems, imagine how bad a wooly bugger costume would look. No running with scissors. How do we represent tying? Would cats attack fish shaped floats? Is there going to be possible fights between fly fishers and hardware guys?
But all of these challenges I am certain could be solved, fishermen are resourceful.
Think of how the attendance at the Sowbug roundup would improve if they held a parade that ran through the middle of town? Add some fire trucks, Shriners, local politicians and I see no reason you wouldn't have increased attendance. What about local outdoor shows, even in the snow, I'd hold a short parade, bring out the sled dogs, ice fishing crews, tow a fly tying table behind an arctic cat. It's sure to draw.
There's a whole history of parades as the local circus used to cruise down Main Street to attract people and we could certainly use that. Parade participation is free, it's local and thousands come out to cheer. When the Deerfield bakery truck comes by and hands out cookies, how many people will remember the great taste of red, white and blue sprinkle coated butter cookies and where they came from? Sure we can’t hand out Royal Coachmans but I’m certain there’s some cute thing that Fishpond, Simms or any of our manufacturers could come up with. Like bottle openers, they have a little heft, easy to toss; everyone along the parade route is drinking something and so they’d be a welcome trinket, just think Mardi Gras beads!
I interviewed Lefty Kreh a few years ago and he thought that fly fishing was declining and in ten years it could possibly cease to exist. Not enough young blood, but it's not so much young blood as it's any blood. So I'd make Lefty my grand Marshall, tow him in pontoon float tube equipped with wheels, and right behind him I'd put that kid and his sign, Fishing.
Stuart Van Dorn