Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chairs a sign of a small town's character

Paul Catt had just begun unspooling the yellow caution tape when a kid leaned out of a pickup truck westbound on Manatee Avenue.


Yeah, try it.

The Trinity United Methodist Church custodian had 50 of them neatly lined up along the sidewalk, staking out the church's prime watching spot for Saturday's annual Hernando DeSoto Historical Society Grand Parade.

Last year he had 100.

"Haven't lost one yet," Catt said.

No surprise there.

Not only is it a Bradenton tradition to put out your chairs early, but it's also part of its small town character that nobody messes with your chairs.

Nobody steals them.

A colleague who is a Tampa native was incredulous.

"Try putting up chairs a couple of days before a parade in Tampa and you'll never see that chair again," he said.

Well, that's Tampa.

It ain't Bradenton.

Which is another reason to love this town.

I know when I arrived here 13 years ago, I was impressed at the sight of so many chairs up and down Manatee Avenue West days before the big parade.

That was on Wednesday or Thursday, too.

But now it's even earlier.

And nobody bothers with those chairs, either.

They just find spaces to put up their own, marking their places for Saturday night.

Seeing them is a cool sign of the fun that awaits us, a parade that's a glimpse into a small town's soul.

Plastic patio chairs and all.

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