Op-Ed

C’mon, America, let’s party like it’s 1799

From left, Ted Bruzas of Avon, Ill.; John Cooper of Pickerington, Ohio; Ron Carley of Detroit; Kevin Wood of Oak Park, Ill.; Robert Brugler of Worthington, Ohio; Rick Miller of Cranberry Township, Maine; and Stan Wernz of Cincinnati sat on a giant swing at the Pate House in Lewisport, Ky., in April 2016.
From left, Ted Bruzas of Avon, Ill.; John Cooper of Pickerington, Ohio; Ron Carley of Detroit; Kevin Wood of Oak Park, Ill.; Robert Brugler of Worthington, Ohio; Rick Miller of Cranberry Township, Maine; and Stan Wernz of Cincinnati sat on a giant swing at the Pate House in Lewisport, Ky., in April 2016. Dubois County (Ind.) Herald

As the citizenry decompresses from the three-week post-Presidents’ Day shopping frenzy, it seems apropos to ask: Is this holiday all it could be?

Where are the roving bands of festive carolers, belting out musical odes to William McKinley?

Where are the homes, festooned with red, white and blue bunting three months in advance?

And where’s the wholesale gluttony? If John & Jane Q. Public aren’t packing away groceries by the gross, it’s just not a holiday in the good ole U.S. of A.

The good news is: We have the crass commercialism down pat. You can’t point your face at a TV set without seeing a cartoon image of Honest Abe, speechifying about area rugs on sale at Carl’s Carpet Carousel.

Or maybe it’s George Washington as a talking dollar bill, dazzling consumers in the latest ad for Otto’s Auto Paradise.

Memo to Madison Avenue: why do POTUS 1 and POTUS 16 corner the market as commercial hucksters? How about we drum up a little business for the other 43?

What true-blue American could resist James K. Polk touting mufflers, or Martin Van Buren pushing pianos? Why isn’t James A. Garfield assassinating high prices for Mentally-Unbalanced Gary’s Appliance Corral? Where’s Ulysses S. Grant hawking sectional sofas at my friendly neighborhood Furniture City?

And it’s not just about exchanging goods and services, gang. Get involved. Get funky, Oval Office-style.

A few sample examples: you could dash off a quick haiku reflecting the life and legacy of John Quincy Adams. YouTube your way through the collected speeches of Gerald Ford. Split a few rails before work.

And if you’re thinkin’ Lincoln, the stovepipe hat is long overdue for a comeback, and makes the perfect conversation starter at the office.

Nothing says “hail to the chief” like a Presidents’ Day party — but plan it early before all the Warren G. Harding impersonators are booked.

Hire a DJ to crank up some John Philip Sousa or the vocal stylings of Margaret Truman.

Your costume? Pick up some flesh-colored facial putty and mold yourself a pair of Richard Nixon’s jowls. Grab two friends and go as Zachary Taylor, William Henry Harrison, and Millard Fillmore — the famed “Whig trifecta.” Grab three friends and go as Mount Rushmore.

Another option: go stag as “Presidentman,” the one-man embodiment of the office, combining wardrobe choices, physical features, and off-putting facial hair of all 45.

Just ask your costume store clerk for the “basic” package, which includes the FDR cigarette holder, Teddy Roosevelt Rough Rider hat, Trumanesque bowtie, and Chester A. Arthur muttonchops, among other accoutrements. The “deluxe” includes your choice of beard. Why not pull out all the stops and go full Rutherford B. Hayes?

It’s okay if the party gets a little blue. Maybe a Mary Todd Lincoln lookalike jumping out of a giant biscuit.

Nothing says “overkill” like a good parade. And the Main Street soiree, now in the works for 2019, is a doozy.

Picture a scene akin to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, if that parade included two non-consecutive, jumbo-sized Grover Cleveland balloons.

Picture yourself tossing shredded Iran-Contra document confetti as an aggregation of Lexington’s high school marching bands plays the always-inspiring Electoral College fight song.

See freckle-faced American youth flinging fish to the presidential seal, as an army of theme park-style Trump mascots bombard delighted parade-goers with endless rolls of two-ply paper towels.

Who’ll be tapped as grand marshal, you ask? The front-runners, at the moment, are:

1. The great-great-nephew of Woodrow Wilson’s favorite neighbor.

2. A woman who once met Lyndon Johnson’s dentist.

3. Fred Clodstock, the current co-assistant deputy undersecretary of transportation.

Not exactly “A listers,” but we’re working on it.

Some might say I’m going overboard. You bet I am. Let’s do what we do best: Let’s go overboard, America. We’re one powdered wig away from partying like it’s 1799.

Reach Toby Gibbs of Lexington at tobygibbs@twc.com.

  Comments