The time between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July is what I’ve always considered the “sweet spot” of summer. You know that luxurious feeling of pure happiness just before you open your eyes and face the day? That’s the feeling I have for pretty much the whole month of June. Azaleas, dogwoods, forsythia and magnolias shove the final withered leaves off their branches and burst into fragrant blooms. A biting wind turns into a gentle caress through an open window. And we transition from coats to sweaters to sleeveless shirts.

OK, that’s not true this year as we swim with the fishes, but notwithstanding 2019, that’s generally how we welcome June in Northeast Ohio.

But this column isn’t about weather. Instead, it is about the tone of spring and summer. As a child growing up in friendly, safe and welcoming Fairview Park, I remember hanging out with neighborhood friends until the street lights flickered on. Drawing chalk “four-squares” on the street, biking and hide-and-seek led to the once-a-year treat of sparklers and “snaps” (throw them on the ground hard and they let out a snapping sound) of the Fourth of July.

Unlike Memorial Day, which is vivid in my mind, I have no real memory of a Fourth of July parade. I’m not even sure there was one.

Fast forward many years, and my husband and I move back to Northeast Ohio with our then 1-year-old daughter. We settle in Lakewood, where my parents had moved when I was 18. That first summer, we packed up a cooler, the stroller, a bunch of toys and lawn chairs and set up on Lake Avenue, near where my parents used to live on Erie Cliff Drive, to watch the “hometown” parade.

We loved every second of it, as did our toddler. We waved as Dennis Kucinich marched by, waving and greeting bystanders. We marveled at George Voinovich bicycling by us. The Lakewood High School band was awesome, the floats were colorful and imaginative and, all in all, we felt like we had landed in Mayberry RFD.

Two years later, our son was born and, like us, he soon viewed the Lakewood Fourth of July parade as a “must” event. The fireworks in Lakewood Park were also mandatory.

July 5 … well, that day was a letdown. For some reason, I felt summer was now on its downswing. And the month of July really does fly by.

When I was a school girl, we didn’t don our Catholic school uniforms until the day after Labor Day. The Jerry Lewis Telethon was our last traditional hurrah of summer. These days, schools resume in August. My husband, a teacher, actually has to report back this year on Aug. 12!

So next week, we will still make that trek to Lake Avenue to watch the Fourth of July parade. My now 24-year-old will actually be marching in the parade this year, as an employee of the local business. It’s a great job to earn money until she can start a job related to her degree in wildlife biology from Ohio University.

In 10 years when, hopefully, she will have little ones of her own, they can sit in wonder with me as bands and floats pass by. It will be a new generation of magic.

I somehow never lost my enjoyment of the pageantry. And I’m very glad.

Contact this reporter at editor@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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