Jim Hemig: A melting pot parade? | TheUnion.com

Jim Hemig: A melting pot parade?

Jim Hemig Publisher The Union
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

I was invited to co-host Nevada County Television’s live Internet feed of last Saturday’s Fourth of July parade in downtown Grass Valley.

This was my first on-screen experience hosting a parade, as well as my first Grass Valley parade. As a newspaper guy, I’m usually staring at a computer screen. I’m not used to being the one on the screen for folks to see and hear.

This front-row experience, literally seated on Mill Street in front of Lucchesi Vineyards tasting room, allowed me to take in all the sights. And being directly connected to parade watchers and to folks on the Internet, I was able to listen to and read what people were saying.

I was fascinated by the diversity of the parade, which I felt represented our community quite closely and served as an example of our freedoms at the same time, both very appropriate for a celebration of our country’s independence.

I was fascinated by the diversity of the parade, which I felt represented our community quite closely and served as an example of our freedoms at the same time, both very appropriate for a celebration of our country’s independence.

I saw a diversity of ages, from the young to the young at heart. Our community’s youth were represented by marching bands from Union Hill and Lyman Gilmore, Northern Mines Girl Scouts, Nevada Union Jr. Miners Football and Cheer, Penn Valley 4H Club, Gold Country Gymnastics, Elite Cheer and NEO. On the other end of the spectrum were entries from our community’s senior citizen services, like Atria of Grass Valley, Gold Country Stage and Lift and Cascades of Grass Valley.

Cultural diversity was included with parade entries from the Gold Country German-American Club, Nevada County Italian Cultural Foundation and Gold Country Celtic Society. Every parade should have bagpipes!

Military and Veteran services were proudly displayed by the Marine Corps Color Guard, The American Legion and Auxiliary Unit 130, the VFW Post 2655, Blue Star Moms, Welcome Home Vets and the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 535.

Our area service organizations, which provide amazing community-minded support, included the five different western Nevada County Rotary clubs, the Foothill Lions Club and the Kiwanis Club of the Gold Country.

Local business was represented by Baskin Robins, IHOP, Budget Blinds of Grass Valley and Elegant Salvage. Grass Valley Jazzercise put on quite a show dancing the entire parade route and John Renwick’s brightly colored RE/MAX Performance Real Estate Hummer was an impressive sight.

Empire Mine State Historic Park had a wonderful entry in the parade. Considering the mine’s past and future importance in our community, it was great to see such a large effort in the parade.

And there was political diversity, mirroring that in our community. The State of Jefferson, the Nevada County Tea Party, the Nevada County Democratic Central Committee, the Nevada County Republican Party, the League of Women Voters, city council members from both Grass Valley and Nevada City, and even a 2016 presidential candidate, were represented.

I happen to like that. More people here are politically aware than in most other California counties, and our voter turnout is higher as a result.

We have to remember that we are a politically minded community. I read and heard comments that some people felt parade organizers should have banned some of the political entries.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution includes my personal favorites, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. But it also includes the right to peaceably assemble. The political parade entries did just that – assembled peacefully.

I find it unfortunate that people try to use their own freedom of speech to limit the First Amendment rights of others.

I respect that the parade, like The Union newspaper, allows all viewpoints to be shared.

Our little parade was shared not only all over the country (Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, New York, Maryland, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana), but also all over the world. People from around the globe, including Italy, Spain, Great Britain, Indonesia, and Tasmania, were able to see our little slice of the right to peaceably assemble.

I, for one, prefer seeing peaceful assembly rather than some of the “opinion” bullying that’s rampant on the Internet these days. Sure, everyone is entitled to voice their opinions in this country, but I don’t see as many of the vitriolic opinions shared in the open, or at parades, as I do from people hiding behind their computer screens.

The way I look at it, if you’re brave enough to parade through downtown or submit an opinion piece to the newspaper to express your opinion, you deserve to be heard. Those who only post online anonymously do not.

So, I would like to applaud our little parade and the slice of western Nevada County that NCTV shared with the world. And I’d like to continue to encourage people to voice their opinions in these pages and along the parade route. Just try not to stifle others from doing the same.

To contact Publisher Jim Hemig, email jhemig@theunion.com or call 530-477-4299.

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