July 4! Always the high point of the year in Nichols Hills. It seems like everyone in the neighborhood comes out for the big parade with its old-timey, traditional feel. Kite Park comes alive with excited adults and dogs dressed in patriotic colors. Each year, the kids in the neighborhood decorate their bikes, wagons, and strollers in red, white, and blue and meet up at the park to parade behind fancy cars and fire engines. The Nichols Hills band takes over the park gazebo and plays marches all morning. As soon as the parade ends, the little kids swarm the city fire engines and pretend to drive while the firemen smile and pass out plastic fire helmets as they help them crawl up and down.
This year marked a new era. The Fong boys rode their own bikes in the parade instead of riding in their wagon while Mom and Dad pulled. The process remained an ordeal for the parents, however. By the end, Parker brought up the rear of the pack with Grammy and Daddy pushing and prodding and trying to get him to lay off the brake so he could keep up with the rest of the parade. He only managed to make one small loop around the park. Meanwhile, Mom walked/ran with Hudson down a new, extended parade route and came back sweaty, exhausted, and suspecting that her flip-flops maybe didn't work for parade footwear. Modern parenting does not favor the weak.
For many, the giant snake remains the single biggest draw. It seems like that snake just gets bigger and bigger every year. I talked to the owner and found out we get a different snake every year. He has two thousand snakes, mostly pythons, in a warehouse in Oklahoma City where he raises them for collectors, preserves, etc. This year's model weighed in at 200 pounds and measured about twenty feet long. Hudson has greeted the giant snake for years, but Parker seemed pretty unsure to begin with. Once his mom knelt down to pet the snake, everyone got on board. Except Grammy. Grammy mostly counts children and pets when the snake comes around to make sure none come up missing.
After the parade, everyone headed to the pool. It seems like anyone who could left town this year, so we didn't have much of a crowd, at least not early on.
The kids started the day at the diving end of the pool, and for whatever reason, decided they would make today High Dive Day. Hudson, Parker, and Maddy all chose today for their first time to go off the high dive - multiple times. I couldn't believe the courage. Hudson seemed a little surprised that it hurt like it did when he hit the water. Parker joyfully shouted, "I did it!" Maddy quietly took her first leap, and she kept going back for more.