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Everyone loves (an Easter) parade. Unless you’re looking for the marching bands and convertibles

By Dean Shalhoup - Senior Staff Writer | Apr 3, 2021

The author, sharply dressed for Easter 1956, poses on his front steps before heading downtown to see the Easter parade.

Of all the disappointments major or minor that little kids may encounter before they can even pronounce the word “disappointment,” being promised a parade then finding out there was no parade to see has to be right up there with the biggest childhood disappointments.

Since today happens to be Easter Sunday, I’ll use as an example my vague recollections of a couple of Easter Sundays of long ago, back when many cars were wider than they were long, two or three bucks.

Well, OK, maybe not the tooth fairy; if I remember, I think that believing in some invisible entity that floated into my bedroom in the middle of the night to replace a baby tooth with a shiny new quarter just wasn’t for me.

Anyway, those “couple of Easter Sundays of long ago” I referred to taught me something about parades: There are parades, and then there are parades, and despite the fact they’re spelled the same, parades can, and do, have very different meanings.

When you’re a toddler, there’s one kind of parade. You stand, or sit, on a carefully selected patch of Main Street sidewalk and watch and wave as men and women and sometimes kids march past you.

Dean Shalhoup

Longtime reporter, columnist and photographer, is back doing what he does best ñ chronicling the people and history of Nashua. Reaching 40 years with The Telegraph in September, Deanís insights have a large, appreciative following.

Marching bands you’d heard in the distance finally reach you, playing military and other patriotic songs you remember hearing at the last parade Mom and Pop brought you to.

Sometimes really old cars are in the parade, chugging along trailed by a small cloud of blue smoke, and other times you might see a few not-so-old convertibles glide past, often with men and women wearing uniforms and sitting on top of the back seat smiling and waving.

Because you’re a kid, one of your favorite things about parades is waiting for the men and women carrying rifles and muskets to stop, raise their guns and shoot into the air when someone yelled “fire!”

So, what was not to like when, come Easter Sunday, Mom and Pop told us kids we’d be going to see “the Easter parade,” as long as sis and I cooperated by letting them dress us in the stiff, spotless, freshly ironed suit complete with, yes, a tiny bow tie, a cap of some type and spit-shined black shoes, and a pastel dress, matching white gloves and socks and patent leather shoes.

It was a long time ago, but I don’t think I put up much, if any, resistance to being fairly mummified in what Jed Clampett would call “Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes.” Perhaps I was just relieved that I didn’t have to dress like that all the time.

Plus, I was promised a parade. Before church, even. Suddenly the “Sunday-go?-to-meetin’ clothes” felt quite comfortable.

Downtown Nashua was teeming with smartly-?dressed folks when Pop slid the old Ford beach wagon into a parking space on Main Street across from the Church of the Good Shepherd, our family’s parish then and still today.

Pop went around the car and climbed into the back seat to retrieve his old Graflex camera and fill his jacket pockets with the “film carriers” he’d earlier loaded with unexposed, 4×5-inch negatives.

Of course, Pop brought out his camera. He always took photos of parades.

When he began going up to people ?whom he recognized and started taking photos of their children, who, like little sister and I, were decked out in their Easter best, I figured he was just taking a few practice photos while we waited for the parade to start.

But when church bells began ringing, and the number of families hustling to their respective houses of worship started diminishing with no signs of a parade in sight, I needed an explanation.

I found Pop, by then putting his camera stuff back into the car, and shared my confusion.

“When does the parade start?” I probably asked. “Oh, well it’s just about over now … so go find your mother and sister, church is about to start … .”

Pop, or someone, must have broken the news to a bewildered me that an Easter parade isn’t the same as, say, a Memorial Day or Veterans Day parade.

To be honest, I have no idea if church-going families still refer to the Easter tradition of getting all gussied up in their Sunday best and walking, hand-in-hand, to their respective churches as an “Easter parade.”

Regardless, here’s wishing a safe, happy Easter to everyone who observes the holiday.

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