I was in Kinsale, Ireland last year for a tour of the Republic of Ireland. It is a beautiful and fabulous place. People are fun, the land is beautiful, and the music is awesome. In the tiny town of Kinsale on the southeast coast, I was informed by our super cute elderly tour guide that the only other Kinsale in the world is in the Commonwealth of Virginia. How exciting, I thought. Unlike Paris, which is also found in Kentucky and Tennessee, little Kinsale has only one twin and it is in my home state. Just so you know, the same holds true for little Harlan, Kentucky. Well, there are at least two (my research in the area of Harlans is not exhaustive).
I grew up not far from the Harlan, Kentucky. Harlan, Kentucky is a pretty place, it is home to Black Mountain, The Hensley Settlement, which is part of the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, and the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum. Although, some would call Harlan “infamous”. It is also known as “Bloody Harlan” because of the coal strikes that endured for years in Harlan in the 1930s resulting in rioting and deaths. These strikes were protests prompted by issues involving miners’ wages, working conditions, and poor living conditions, among other things. Very important things. Important to those hard working folks deep in Appalachia who were working hard for their money, very hard. Today, I live only a few miles away from Harlan, Indiana, an unincorporated town in Allen County, Indiana.
Harlan, Indiana certainly does not have the same kind of rich and dramatic history as Harlan, Kentucky. However, it does put on a good parade. The Runner and her sweet family invited me to join them in Harlan for the Harlan Days Parade. Of course, The Runner won the Harlan Days 10K so she was one of the parade’s stars – riding in the back of a Camaro with the men’s 10K winner. Very fancy. So, I watched the parade, complete with candy missiles, with The Runner’s husband, The Engineer (he is way smarter than me), and their baby girl. We had fun despite the rain . . . yes, yes, it rained on our parade, literally.
This was my first Midwestern parade. I am sure you are wondering if parades in the Midwest are different than Southern parades. Right? Well, there were high school bands, cheerleaders, homemade floats, fire trucks and the like. So they are very similar. But what the Midwest folks have that we in the mountain South do not are antique tractors. Lots of tractors. In fact, just before the parade you could hear the tractor pull gearing up. I have never seen so many tractors in one place.
My very favorite parade entry, other than The Runner and her Camaro chauffeur, were the Submarine Veterans. As you can see, they are super cool.
It may appear that Harlan, Kentucky and Harlan, Indiana have little in common. In Harlan, Kentucky there are fewer tractors and plenty of coal trucks. In Harlan, Indiana there are no coal miners but plenty of farm, mill and automotive workers. But both little Harlans are filled with hard working, kind and good people trying to make each and every Saturday the best and most pleasant one yet. Give the next coal miner, farmer, or GM worker you run into a smile or a hand shake. They put in a hard day’s work today and they deserve it.