The celebration of our pioneer heritage is important in our area. In July there is a musical and a rodeo. But the most significant event is the parade. Every church congregation builds a beautiful float, some taking half a year to complete it. These were always church assignments. But then the directive from the church headquarters came that the celebration would be run as an independent organization because of liability issues.
In our congregation that year, the request was made for volunteers to build the float. But due to the amount of work, no one stepped forward. I was given the assignment to announce in church and our community that we would not have a float due to lack of interest. It caused murmuring in the congregation, but everyone quieted down for the church meetings to continue. But afterward was a different story.
I had the assignment of running a correlation meeting for scheduling summer activities. Usually, there were around ten people that showed up. Most of those attending were the adults and youth who led the youth groups. But on that day, the room was packed with people standing around the walls, with others in the doorways and hall. Obviously, there was an issue of concern.
I tried to act normal as I started the meeting. “So, scout camp is scheduled for . . . “
I was cut off by an older lady named Flora. “We want to talk about the cancellation of the float.”
“We had no choice,” I said. “It’s no longer part of the church, and no one volunteered to direct building it.”
From the mumbling, it sounded like some there almost felt I should be tarred and feathered.
“You will not cancel the float,” Flora said. “It is part of our heritage. I will volunteer.”
Another lady named Vivian raised her hand. “I will also volunteer.”
Then Flora pointed at me. “And Daris, you will volunteer, too.”
The last thing I wanted to do was be on the float committee. But one look at the frowning faces around me told me I had little choice. And so the float building began. Flora and Vivian determined the design, and I hauled lumber and started sawing and nailing. The most significant focus was an eagle fifteen feet high, standing with its feet on an American flag that flowed to the front of the float.
When I finished the eagle, I thought it was perfect. Flora thought otherwise. “That eagle will never do. Rebuild it.”
“But, Flora,” I said, “I think it looks good. What’s wrong with it?”
“Its wings are not pointed enough. It looks like a butterfly.”
“But I like butterflies,” I replied.
“Rebuild it,” Flora demanded.
I took the wings off the eagle and rebuilt it. When I finished, I thought it was flawless now. But still, Flora thought otherwise.
“It looks like a sparrow with sharp talons,” Flora said. “Rebuild it.”
I sighed at the thought of doing it again. Just then, a big, beautiful hawk flew into the potato cellar where we were. It was probably searching for a place to cool off from the heat outside. It flew up and landed on the eagle.
“Look, Flora,” I said. “The hawk loves my eagle.”
“A hawk shouldn’t love an eagle,” she replied. “It should be afraid the eagle would tear it to pieces. But when it looks like a sparrow, all the hawk wants to do is eat it for lunch.”
I rebuilt the eagle.
Flora felt it could still be better, but she said it would do. I continued building. There was the frame for the flag, a turntable for veterans to stand on, and many other things. I thought we would never finish. But finally, the day before the parade, with the last bit of trim added, Flora declared it finished. And with Flora’s keen eye for detail and Vivian’s knack for color matching, it was beautiful. We even won first place.
And now, though I try to help on the float each year, I work with the musical so I will be too busy to be involuntarily volunteered for the float committee.