ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   Where do we start?

© Another Day in the Country

Everything starts with a creative idea, right? Columns in the newspaper are no exception.

Back in 1998, my sister and I were getting ready to drive from California to Kansas because the Schubert family was having a reunion.

“We should do something exciting,” I said to my sister. She gave me that “like what?” look — a combination of skeptical frowning eyebrows and a mouth with a smiley-smirk.

“A parade,” I said. “We could have a parade for the Fourth of July — I know for certain they haven’t had a parade since the centennial celebration in 1987.”

I’ve always loved parades — real parades with horses and kids pulling wagons and floats on trailers — not the kind with just rescue vehicles. Costumes! I love it when people go to the attic or the thrift store and make themselves funny costumes to wear. It’s great fun when someone just grabs some junk from the back yard, plunks it on a trailer and makes a float.

“Who is going to be in the parade?” my organizing sister asked. “If it is going to be more than just family, we have to warn someone.”

So we called the Ramona mayor at the time — we’d met him when he was just a teenager, helping us clean up our first house in Ramona — so Brandon could invite the community to join in. Then, my sister called the newspaper to invite folk in the surrounding countryside.

That’s how the first Fourth of July parade started in Ramona. It wasn’t a very long parade. We joked about how short it was and sent it up and down the street twice so people could get a second viewing.

When we actually moved to Kansas in 2000, the parade on the Fourth of July in Ramona became an annual event. We’ve had so much fun through the years. Our photo albums are full of laughs like the year Tool Time Tim, Jess, and I dressed up like the Three Little Pigs and built our houses on the back of Tim’s trailer.

Ever since we started going to the Smoky Hills River Festival in Salina, we’ve looked at their creative ideas (like decorating trees with yards and yards of cloth) and tried to incorporate some of those ideas into the Ramona event. We’ve always loved the big mural, painted on grass that they do every year.

Well, the other day when Jess was out mowing grass she got this wild idea.

“Could we have a grass painting contest this year in Ramona on the Fourth?”

“Great idea!” I said to her. Let’s do it for the kids. I’ve been teaching art at Centre for a long time and I know we have some great artists in town — like Mathew and Jennea who were in my fifth-grade art class this year. Come to think of it, we had some really good young artists in third and fourth grades, too. Wouldn’t it be great to have the Ramona kids form teams and compete for prize money to paint a 10-by-10 grassy area?

Jess never lets a good idea sit dormant for very long. Before you know it, she found some of the kids in town and asked them what they thought of a grass painting contest. The kids were excited.

You know how it is in a small town during the summer. The kids all whine, “There’s nothing to do!” I can remember them moaning every summer since we moved to the country, “This is such a boring town. There’s nothing to do!”

We all know what comes out of boredom too often: mischief. So we try different things — we’ve had dance classes in anticipation of the Fourth of July parade. We’ve made musical instruments and had classes for making scarecrows. We’ve had photography workshops, art classes, pumpkin carving contests and clean-up projects, with barbecues and dances, just to name a few.

Well, this year, we’re having a grass painting contest for Ramona kids 18 and younger. City Council President Billy Alcorn will be mowing 10-foot squares into the lawn beside the Miller Building on Ramona’s main drag for the art display. Won’t it be fun to see the kids working on this project?

I decided to help sponsor first prize. “I’ll match that,” said Billly, who, in addition to being city council president, is also sponsor for Ramona’s Junior City Council. We were off and running with this great idea. Billy and Jess started gathering spray paint (got any you want to get rid of?), and Billy found donors for second and third prizes. This is exciting and best of all, the kids in town are excited, too.

Mowing lawns in the summer seems to be an endless boring task, but who knows what bright idea you might dream up as you go back and forth cutting a swath of grass on another day in the country?

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