Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fourth of July blast in the past

This is the promised post about memorable Fourth of July celebrations. It's a tad late but still on the big holiday weekend. Just a note that memorable does not always mean in a good way because sometimes the strongest memories are attached to less than fun experiences.

1976Colorado Springs Memorial Park - It was a Sunday and our oldest son was one month old. After church and lunch we loaded the car with baby gear, a cooler and dish to share, and hats. Our friends had cordoned off a section with strollers and playpens where there was a good view of the bandstand and the cannons (signal cannons from Ft Carson). We enjoyed a potluck picnic supper, sparklers, a symphonic band concert complete with 1812 Overture, and fireworks. It was a great Bicentennial celebration.

1980 – Huber Heights Tom Cloud Park – The local Jaycees hold a July Fourth Carnival in part of the park the weekend closest to the fourth. They host free public fireworks. For years this was the go-to fireworks display in the area.

1986Rome (NY) Ft. Stanwix – (or was it 1987) The National Park Service permitted the town fathers to “bend the grass” on the apron of the earthworks around the fort. The Syracuse Symphony Orchestra gave a concert complete with the 1812 Overture which was fitting as Ft. Stanwix troops actually fought in the War of 1812. This playing of the Overture was about giving a nod to the past over musicality. The square around the fort is encircled by a number of churches fitted with bell towers. The fort still retains several operable 1812 powder-fired cannons. So these were incorporated into the performance which points out the musicality issue; church bells and ancient cannon with dew dampened powder do not sound on cue. But despite those things it is still the performance that comes to mind when I hear the music being played now.

1988Charlotte – We were visiting family and they took us downtown the back way to see the fireworks display launched from one of the city skyscrapers. A local radio station played music cued to the launch script but the signal was blocked by the city architecture. Oh well.

2001Dayton - The first July Fourth at the newly opened RiverScape. The fireworks were launched from a land jut in the river and the frame of one of the bridges. The display included the new five point fountains which were lighted and a laser-light display. Music was piped through the loudspeaker system. We had a front row view from the railing of the next bridge down river.

2003 – Centennial of Flight and Fourth of July combined at Wright Field (OH) – This was supposed to be an “all the stops pulled out” extravaganza but Mother Nature had other plans. Airships and hot air balloons were on display and there was to be a balloon glow during the Band of Flight concert. Halfway through the second song the emcee broke in and told everybody to get off the field because a storm with 70 mph winds was expected shortly. We were still 100 yards from the parking area when it hit. The mix of rain-wetted dust driven by the wind was blinding and all sense of direction was obliterated.

We were struggling to hold our stuff, stay on our feet, watch out for groundhog holes which were everywhere; and then the lightning arrived. Our chairs were basically big lightning rods as were all those cars. Speaking of cars we now had to dodge them because people were crazy enough to try to drive in this stuff. We were exhausted and hopelessly lost when the window of a still parked car opened and the driver offered shelter until it let up enough that we could find our car. Realize that we were totally soaked and unbelievably grimy, we looked like a couple of coal miners, and the car was a Cadillac DeVille. In about 20 minutes it moved out and we found our car, which was amazingly close, and started to make our way home. I still haven’t recovered and that’s the last time I’ve done an open field Fourth of July.

So I hope everyone had a memorable Fourth and maybe others will share some of their memories of Fourth of Julys of the past.


7sky said...

Nice did your parade coverage go? Hope it was great.

Melissa Donovan said...

I was at Disneyland for the Bicentennial although I was too little to remember... sounds like you've had many wonderful Independence Days!

G's Cottage said...

@7sky - I'll email later about it.

@melissa - I'll bet somebody has photos from the day though. Somewhere I have a photo of my son on my lap at the park but with rearranging rooms I am not sure which box or bookcase that album is located at the moment.