Tomato Patch: The Fourth of July on a bike built for two

By Greg Glassner

Editor Emeritus

If you attended the annual Fourth of July Parade in Ashland you may have noticed a large oaf attempting to pedal a tandem bicycle behind Paul Revere.

It was I, the retired newspaper editor-turned parade grand marshal.

Greg Glassner, H-P editor emeritus and Fourth of July parade grand marshal, is chauffeured through the parade route on a tandem bicycle.

Greg Glassner, H-P editor emeritus and Fourth of July parade grand marshal, is chauffeured through the parade route on a tandem bicycle.

In 40-some years in the newspaper business I have attended many parades, of course, but I usually watched them through a camera viewfinder and/or juggled a notebook and pen. As a member of the Ashland Kiwanis Club I also help coordinate floats and marching units in outlying parking lots for the annual holiday parade. All of this clandestine, behind the scenes training does not exactly qualify a person to lead a parade, however.

So, when I was invited by the Hanover Arts and Activities Center to serve as the Grand Marshal, I first made sure they had the right Greg Glassner. Then I asked what the duties might be. They said all I had to do was smile, wave and ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

As parade day approached, I received word that the horse had bailed on the project. I suspect the noble steed had somehow heard he would be hauling a portly gent rather than a petite beauty queen and bolted from the barn. This must be what they mean by “horse sense.”

This was probably for the best, as I had a premonition that I would arrive at Henry Clay Elementary School and be handed a shovel and a bucket and told that in this particular parade the Grand Marshal follows the horse-drawn carriage.

The parade organizers assured me that they’d round up some sort of suitable transport, like a llama cart, or golf cart, or tandem bicycle. The llama appealed to my sense of the absurd, but it would have to have been a robust llama.

Parade day dawned bright and sunny, which was a blessing. I have been accused in the past of triggering devastating downpours by running stories about droughts on the front page of newspapers I worked for and did not want to be accused of jinxing the Fourth of July celebration by my association.

When I reported for duty I was introduced to Paul Revere (a.k.a. Chris Holloway, a Town employee) who pointed to a somewhat spindly-looking bicycle-built-for-two as my transportation device. The co-pilot seat appeared designed for a shorter and lighter person than I, but we made do.

Holloway said all I had to do was enjoy the ride, but I confessed that I pedal a stationary bike at the Patrick Henry YMCA three times a week and have a bike of my own at home. I said I thought I could contribute.

Besides, we were second in line behind the color guard and just in front of a guy on stilts, so the pace was sedate. So slow, in fact that balancing the tandem bicycle was pretty tricky. Every time Paul Revere blew his bugle or I waved to the crowd, we veered off course.

Though I entertained visions of both of us sprawled on the asphalt, we survived intact. After all, what would have happened if Paul Revere had been thrown by his steed?

By the time we whooshed around the block and parked at the Hanover Arts and Activities Center, most of the parade had gone by, but I hear it was a good one.

The parade organizers asked me how long I had worked at the H-P and how long I had been the editor. I replied eight years to each question.

At the ceremony during the concert of patriotic music by the always excellent Hanover Concert Band it was noted that I was the retired editor of the H-P and that I was being honored for my 16 years to the Hanover community. Actually it has only been a little less than nine.

I guess I owe everyone at least another seven years.

Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm