Red, white and blue colored the July 4 weekend throughout Montgomery County, but in Takoma Park, where nearly everyone marches to the beat of a different drummer, wigs of chartreuse, maroon and orange were the order of Monday's annual parade.
Around the bend of Carroll Avenue they came, down Maple Street to the heart of Takoma Park, marchers representing a diversity of political hues and social concerns.
There was the usual assortment of Shriners, scouts, bands and majorettes. But then there were the All Fouled Up Pup Tent No. 5, Military Order of the Cootie, a floating punk rock band and a schnauzer pulling a flower cart.
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard snapped up to the reviewing stand with brass plates on their heels and steel tips on their rifle stocks. Members of the Maryland Medieval Mercenary Militia battled in the streets with swords and clubs; some members lay "dying" until the hot asphalt suddenly revived them--all for the edification of hundreds of spectators wolfing down ice cream bars and chunks of watermelon.
The procession's starting and stopping provided the audience with an unintended source of amusement, as previously distinct organizations faced sudden mergers.
"Stop. Sto-op. Stop!" cried Wayne David, chasing a tiny Sherry Parker, who was carrying forth even though her Takoma Park Pompon Squad had halted.
Commercial interests infiltrated the ranks, with moving companies, trailer sales firms and auto dealers shamelessly advertising their businesses on floats.
Even the Town of Garrett Park, which held its own parade Saturday and has received attention the world over as a nuclear-free territory, saw fit to pound home the message with marchers bearing signs and wearing T-shirts that showed red slashes over mushroom clouds.
But such concerns are not alien to the residents of Takoma Park. On the back of a small truck in front of Garrett Park's entourage was a painting by Takoma Park Mayor Sammie A. Abbott. Entitled, "No Place to Hide," it depicts an atomic blast and writhing bodies. It was received warmly.
Unfortunately, for those who might have preferred sanctity in celebrating Independence Day in the city, this is an election year. Politicians infested the early proceedings and blanketed the captive crowds with pamphlets and free balloons.
"They're killin' me," said a a balloon salesman who called himself "Joe Jones," bemoaning the government's transgression into the private sector.