On a spectacular fall day, foliage bursting against a perfect blue sky, Warwick pride was front and center as the Homecoming parade joyfully wound its way through the village. The students outdid themselves with creative floats, skits and dances. The Warwick Valley High School Marching Band heralded Wildcat pride, while student athletes cruised in style as proud families and community members cheered all along the route. Faculty, administration, elementary students, and the Homecoming Royal Court all added to the pomp, circumstance and celebration of small town life.
As the parade neared closer to the village, I saw a different celebration simultaneously take place. A hearse was ready to leave the Lazear-Smith Vander Plaat Funeral Home. I felt so terrible for this family to have an inconvenience added to their grief with the parade halting the funeral procession. One by one, curious family members, all donned in mourning black, began to exit the funeral home and gathered together on the sidewalk. They waved and clapped. Joining in the fun, two of the family members briefly jumped into the parade, arms linked, marching in step, smiles brighter than the brilliant day. Their family members laughed, and together, celebrated life.
The coordination between the Warwick Police Department and Roger VanderPlaat was no small feat, but they made it appear effortless. I took many pictures of the parade, beginning to end. Later in the day, as I reviewed them all, this one struck me and spoke to my heart. My daughter was the princess being chauffeured in that convertible. Her smile, and those of the family waving back to her… a brief, beautiful moment of shared humanity. I chose Warwick, 19 years ago, as the place I wanted to raise my children. I sought a community that cares for each other and celebrates all that is good and pure and simple. This picture confirms what I yearned for. I do not know the family or their deceased loved one, but I was so very happy for them.
Going Home, to The Creator, their loved one had one last spectacular celebration. May we all be so blessed! Homecoming in Warwick is a gift to be treasured and cherished.