Call me the rainmaker, drought destroyer


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Ken Trainor

First off, let me apologize for this drought. It's my fault. I haven't been planning enough outdoor activities.

As most of my friends now know, I have a bad case of "weather karma." I'm sure it comes from grousing incessantly about the imperfect state of things, and this is my punishment, but 90 percent of the time when I plan an outdoor activity, it rains. I haven't planned any outdoor activities lately?#34;hence the drought.

The only day that I planned to do something outside in the last month was the 4th of July, and that was the only day we've had a sustained rainfall. Granted, it was little more than a pathetic spritz for most of the afternoon and evening, but did you notice how it gradually picked up during the fireworks until by the finale, it was borderline tolerable? The fireworks finale was sponsored by Wednesday Journal. The drizzle was sponsored by my weather karma.

There was one exception. The clouds parted in the late morning just long enough for the parade to snake up Ridgeland Avenue under clear skies. Apparently Oak Park's parade karma is stronger than my weather karma. In other words, the village as a whole must be doing something right.

I rode on Wednesday Journal's 25th anniversary float, just as I did during the Memorial Day Parade in River Forest, which also took place in ideal conditions. I've ridden and walked in many parades over the years, and I've also watched parades from the curb. I prefer the former. When you're in a parade, you realize there are actually two parades going on?#34;one viewed by the spectators and one viewed by the participants.

The parade I love is the passing panorama of people sitting and standing on curbs, parkways, front lawns, and the wonderful wide porches of Ridgeland's grand Victorians, many adorned with flags and bunting. What you're passing is a community spectrum in all its delightful diversity?#34;probably the most representative cross-section of the population that ever gathers in one place. If the sight of happy, healthy, multigenerational families in a festive mood cheers your soul?#34;even disillusioned idealists like me?#34;then this is the perfect vantage point.

Which gave me an idea. Next year, someone should put a cameraman on one of the floats?#34;say, Joe Kreml, who does the programming for the village's cable channel 6. Better yet, have two cameramen to film each side of the street?#34;the entire parade of spectators, along with the trees and houses. I'm not talking about "footage." I mean cinema verite, the entire thing, uninterrupted. It would provide a "snapshot" of the village in the first decade of the 21st century, a perfect addition to the collections at the Historical Society and the Oak Park Public Library.

Better yet, film the River Forest Memorial Day Parade as well, so we have a perfectly preserved "videography" of both towns.

As for the fireworks, I recommend sitting in the stadium stands. Most people seem to prefer fanning out on the periphery and watching from some staked piece of turf?#34;artificial or natural?#34;on the circumference. But the stands are the perfect place to watch since a good number of the explosions occur close to the ground. And there are plenty of seats, even at 9 p.m.

An additional benefit is the recorded march music that accompanies the show?#34;although the music started skipping just as the finale began, as if someone were searching in vain for just the right piece of music to complement the visuals.

But there I go again, complaining about the imperfect state of things.

Which brings me back to my original point. As a gift to the community, I'm going to start planning more outdoor activities this month. That should guarantee a generous and steady supply of rainfall.

No thanks necessary. I live to serve.

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