This year I had the opportunity to be the volunteer coordinator for the Butter & Egg Days Parade.

After being involved in the preparation side, it strikes me that putting on an event such as the parade is like hosting a dinner party. A lot of work goes into preparing for the evening; planning what to serve, shopping, preparing all the dishes, cleaning the house, etc. The guests arrive, everyone has a good time for a few hours and then they leave. The hosts are left with the clean up and the question of whether or not hosting the party was worth the effort.

So that leads me to asking that question about the parade. Was all the work that the Petaluma Downtown Association, the 150 volunteers and numerous businesses and organizations put into making the parade happen worth the effort? While it doesn’t need to be a life-changing experience, was going to the parade like eating fast food – consumed and then quickly forgotten – or was it more like having a really good meal with people whose company you enjoy in a nice place. Was it something that you talk about afterwards and remember for years to come?

I think it is the latter. I talked to several people who said they go to the parade because they get a chance to chat with neighbors who they only wave hello to as they drive off to work in the morning. Many people look forward to the parade because it’s something that all generations of a family can enjoy together. Many go because it celebrates our community spirit and heritage. And based on the way I saw many twenty-somethings dressed, they go just because it’s a big party. And that’s ok too. It’s only unfortunate when some kids go to the parade solely with the goal of getting hammered.

So back to my original question. Is it worth the effort? I think that everyone involved in the parade – and I include myself in this – should feel gratified because no matter what motivates people to come to the parade, the vast majority of them leave the event feeling that they got what they wanted from the experience. Being in downtown Petaluma on April 16th added to their lives. And that’s why the Butter & Egg Days Parade is such a resounding success.