Art, I tend to agree with most of what you say, at least as I see it on a national level. And, yes, some political folks I won't mention can sometimes make very inappropriate comments in their attempt to promote them selves or their agendas. The pendulum of overall civic behavior has swung in an uncomfortable direction over the years.
However, my sense is that smaller, hometown village parades and celebrations probably retain their historical traditions more firmly and without the political or commercial nonsense. I have seen this in CT and MA. and I hope it is true in some areas of VT, which is your turf.
I live in such a village in CT, with a population of circa 1,500 residents, 6 marinas, 4 restaurants, 1 brunch counter, 1 package store, 1 church, 1 graveyard, 1 historical society, 1 water department plus a volunteer fire dept. with 2 engines & 1 rescue truck..
We just finished our annual Parade through the village today with stops at the cemetery and local war memorial to honor the fallen. Our parade is organized by the local American Legion, who also provide a picnic benefit at the end where locals can have lunch and visit with each other. Certain local politicians do participate by invitation, but they do not try to take advantage of the event and here is no hint of unusual commercialism.
I feel proud to march in such a parade, even though the event itself requires time and energy for many of us, and my 78 year old knees complain to me afterwards. But I wouldn't change anything, and hope this spirit might, in time, help swing the pendulum back again.