The Horribles Parade

Informant: The informant here is an Irish Catholic girl from Beverly, Massachusetts, a small town made out of the original Salem settlement and as such a traditionally superstitious area.


So where I’m from, the 4th of July is a big deal. People don’t handle it well. Like one year someone stole a police car and crashed it in the ocean and dragged it out and put it on a flatbed and had it in the parade the next day. And there’s this tradition they pick someone from our rival town the next over and get them belligerently drunk and then put them on a flatbed and they wake up and they’re being driven through town in the parade. I saw it for nineteen years, well maybe not every year, but at least ten times in my life. Just drunken assholes duct taped to a chair. It’s called the Horribles Parade, because the whole point of it is to make fun of people – drunk driving incidents, legal troubles, arrests in general, celebrities, old people. The old people love it though. They’re like the grandmasters of the parade. It’s like a huge roast over a couple miles. My grandfather’s doing it this year. He gets to get loaded and sit in a truck. It’s really fun and my grandfather grew up there and my mom grew up there and the whole 4th of July is really ritualistic. There’s races and sandcastle contests and a scavenger hunt, it’s like a whole week event, not just one day.

Analysis: Generally, holidays exist to celebrate the positives in life. However, on some occasions, the opposite impulse – the denigration of the negative – also crops up. The coinciding of such an event with the 4th of July makes logical sense – a celebration of freedom would be best expressed by taking advantage of such freedoms. Thus the Horribles parade. The particular tradition of taping a drunken out-of-towner to a parade float serves as a celebration of local pride on a holiday dedicated to national pride. Thus, the community celebrates any and all forms of collective identity, whether on the micro on the macro level while also creating an entertaining and hilarious celebration.