Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stars and Stripes

On Sunday, June 15th we celebrated three occasions in Three Oaks, Michigan. The tiny village of Three Oaks continues to hold the title for hosting the world's largest Flag Day parade. We were entrant #130 for Century 21 First Team Realty. This is Mario's third year participating in the parade. Sunday was also Father's day and my sister Joan's birthday.

Most of our immediate family members live in suburban Chicago and welcomed the drive out to Three Oaks. Ken and I hosted the combined Father's day, birthday and pre-parade party at his Three Oaks home.

The morning was clear and sunny as I backed the Clenet out of the garage into the driveway. I then pulled my XK8 behind the Clenet to wash both at the same time. Just as I finished rinsing the cars, my brother Mario arrived, not in "car wash" garb! He had a listing appointment in an hour, so I delegated drying the Clenet to him.

Just as we finished drying both cars, the sunny clear skies turned dark with a west wind kicking up! We looked up and knew the heavens were about to open. He quickly pulled the Clenet into the garage while Ken was calling us in for breakfast. I didn't care about the XK8 getting rained on...so long as the sand and mud was washed away!

As we began our wonderful breakfast, the first bolt of lightning flashed outside and a torrential, gusty downpour enveloped the neighborhood. The last thing I wanted was my family cancelling on us; and my parade getting rained upon! Mario departed to meet with his business partner for their listing appointment and would return in time for lunch with the family.

The local news channel reported that the severe storm would be short-lived and the sky would soon clear. Within the hour, just that happened and we were now able to go back outside and set up the back garden for our pre-parade family cookout. Ken was up 'til 2 a.m. that morning preparing the best homemade recipes and I patted out twenty half-pound burgers complete with my secret seasoning!

The family was scheduled to arrive at noon, giving me an hour to get tables and chairs set up. To my dismay, the lawn was too soaked for use and I had to change the locale. We were now going to dine alfresco on the front drive!

Tables, chairs and umbrellas were all relocated to the front driveway along with the grill and prep table. First to arrive was my sister Donna and our father. This was his first time seeing the Clenet and he headed straight for the car, still parked safely in the garage. My eldest brother and his family arrived next. He too made a beeline for the Clenet, asking many questions and giving his thoughts.

Suddenly, the sky turned dark and another gusty rainstorm plowed through the neighborhood leaving the outdoor furnishings toppled and blown into the next yard. Again, the local weather station Doppler showed a very thin line of storms moving quickly through the area. My sister Karen and her date arrived next. We were all accounted for with the exception of the birthday girl. Joan had decided to stay home on her birthday, I was very disappointed that she chose not to participate.

Ken was eagerly mastering the grill when Mario and Ginny arrived, and without further ado we served lunch at noon, all being very relieved that the skies were clear and sunny again.

The parade would be starting at three o'clock and the Clenet needed to be in its assigned spot by 2:00. Everyone helped clear the driveway of furniture to get the Clenet out of the garage. Once on the street, my father and brother Reno were the first to give it a whirl. Next were Karen and Clive who were both enamoured with the car! After the quick test drives, Mario and Ginny scurried off as everyone else prepared to leave for the parade route.

Ken and I walked to the other end of town to meet up with Mario, Ginny and the other Century 21 Realtors who were part of our group. Mario and Ginny prepared hundreds of flags to hand out along the route while Ken and I drove the Clenet. We threw 20 pounds of flag-wrapped tootsie rolls to the masses while navigating that wonderful car through town!

Over and over and over again...the cheers and compliments we received along the parade route resounded that our car was a huge hit. This was our second weekend with the car and again, we basked in the warm comments from the delighted crowd. I love driving this car! Whether down a winding country road or through town in a parade! I truly enjoy telling people about the car, how we found it and answer the many, many questions that are asked.

Now...if I can only get a pic of us driving the car in the parade! during all of the excitement, I completely forgot to have someone snap a few photos of me!

The day is only half over - there are two more post-parade parties where the Clenet took center stage. More to come...

Next weekend, I am invited to display the Clenet at the Burr Ridge Village Center car show.
-Ron Zarantenello

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