Root beer barrels, and more

I just got back from Pittston Candy and Tobacco on Broad Street. And also a little side trip to a dollar store.
Why?
Because tomorrow is parade day in downtown Pittston. The Pittston Tomato Festival parade gets going at 10:30 a.m.
As I have the past few years, I will be participating with the crew from Greater Pittston Progress. Along with the Citizens Voice, of which we are an edition, we are festival media sponsors.
Unlike other years, however, I will not be walking along the parade route. That’s because of a phone call I got from my brother last spring. “I just bought an Audi convertible,” he said. “You’re not walking in parades anymore.” So, I’ll be riding, I guess.
I won’t be alone. In the car along with me and Bill at the wheel will be his daughter Masha and my little 4-year-old great niece Coco who is visiting with her family from Roanoke, Virginia.
I laid in my supply of individually wrapped Swedish fish to toss to those watching the parade. Normally, I walk up to adults along the route and place Swedish fish in their hands, telling them, “Anyone can throw a few Tootsie rolls in the gutter for the kids to grovel over, but Swedish fish must be handed out.” Often, I’ll say, “This is adult parade candy,” or “I call these the Cadillac of parade candy.”
Last year I added those candy “ice cream cones” with the marshmallow “ice cream” we all ate as kids and they were a big hit. But I cannot throw those from the car. They’re too light. I bought a bunch for this year but I’ll have to rely on my Progress colleagues to hand them out.
I also picked up a bag of something I handed out at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade earlier this year: root beer barrels. They were a bigger hit that the ice cream cones. And I can throw them, so be on your toes.
The stop at the dollar store was inspired by my brother-in=law Paul Kern. He always rides in the parade with the Meals on Wheels truck. For weeks ahead of time, he buys stuffed animals at the dollar store to toss to the kids. Paul cannot make the parade this year, so in his honor, I picked up some things from the dollar store. As I was picking them out all I could think about was the smiles they were going to put on little faces.
This costs me a few bucks, but it’s money well spent. H.L. Mencken wrote, “The chief value of money is that having it is vastly overrated.” I like that. But I prefer the Charles Dickens advice that money’s only value is the joy it can bring to others.

Ed Ackerman