The biggest draw on a Saturday morning in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana is the zydeco dance from 8 AM to noon at the Café des Amis.
That is unless you happen to drive over there on the day of the annual Breaux Bridge Citywide Garage Sale. To say this is a popular event is understatement in the extreme.
Bargain hunters, browsers, and people looking for a good morning’s worth of entertainment piled into town from every town within fifty miles of Lafayette parish.
No wonder. Garage sales, yard sales, neighborhood sales, and parking lot sales were happening on every street leading into Breaux Bridge and peppered in areas around the entire city.
Merchants along Main Street and Bridge Streets set up merchandise on tables on the sidewalks in front of their stores. Oh yes, and an flea market with more than 40 vendors flourished in Veteran’s Park at the intersection of Berard Street and Martin Streets.
The sidewalks are full of friendly chatter. A woman passing a couple having lunch at a table squeezed onto the sidewalk outside the Chez Jacqueline Bar and Restaurant stops in her tracks, leans over and asks the name of the food on a diner’s plate, “That’s cous cous, Charlene!” she says to her fellow shopper. “I’ve heard of it and never seen it!”
This kind of easy camaraderie bubbles along all over town. The teenage girl in front of Glo’s Fashions sells chess pies that her grand mama, who happens to own the store, made for the sale, and shyly tells me the ingredients. People who've never met exchange opinions about sale items arranged on the sidewalks.
Breaux Bridge has morphed into a village shopping mall. You could probably walk up to a resident’s house and bargain for the rocker on the front porch. On sale are antiques, collectibles, lamps furniture, dishes, embroidery, plants, glassware, purses, bows, pottery, antique tools, and anything no longer held hostage in someone’s attic, cellar, or garage.
The best thing about this citywide garage doesn’t cost a cent. It’s the feel of an America in less complicated, less polarized times.
The range of political views held by the people walking around town might be narrow but it's there. Probably lots of sons, daughters, fathers or mothers from this parish are serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The sunshine and massive array of merchandise for sale has neutralized the sharp edges of politics. For this one morning in America, the differences of opinion are secondary to finding a good deal or an item you just found out you couldn't live without . Maybe we ought to consider having a nation wide garage sale.