Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4, 1985: Fireworks

During my single years, I gravitated to Fourth of July festivals and to art fairs, parades, outdoor concerts, etc. If friends were available, I’d go with them; other times I went alone. Sometimes I thought it might be more fun if I had a special guy to share the experience.



So in 1985, with just such a man in my life, I suggested we go to Taste of Minnesota, a festival on the state capitol grounds featuring food, music, and fireworks. We went early and spread our blanket in a good spot. The food wasn’t wonderful, but people-watching was. As it grew dark, the Minnesota Orchestra played classics…1812 Overture, Stars and Stripes Forever, something by Aaron Copeland…all stirring and beautiful and perfectly suited to the occasion. If memory serves, they ended with the 1812 and started the fireworks just then. Huge chrysanthemums and fountains filled the sky overhead, and we oohed and aahed with the rest of the crowd. The finale might have been romantic, except that the skies opened up. Suddenly thousands of people were bumping and jostling, hoping to get out of the rain, hurrying in different directions toward their cars. We rushed, too, until we recognized the futility: first, we were already soaked, and second, once we got into the car and pointed toward the bottled-up freeway it would be stop-and-go traffic for an hour.

That’s when I understood why Peter didn’t like big, crowded festivals. We became a family in search of accessible fireworks. (And yes, I'm breaking with the tradition of my "25 years" stories by acknowledging the obvious: we are together, and celebrating the 25th anniversary of our courtship and marriage.)

We found a more distant vantage point for the Taste show—a church parking lot at the top of a ridge overlooking downtown. But a year later, the shrubs on the ridge had grown tall, blocking much of our view, and the mosquitoes were so thick we left early. In 1988, on the return leg of a family trip to Boston, we watched fireworks with my college friend Kathy and her family in Grafton, Wisconsin. And for a few years we headed over to the east bank of the University of Minnesota, sat on a hillside, doused ourselves with Avon Skin-So-Soft (original formula, an excellent mosquito repellent), ate fresh cherries, and watched the fireworks set off at the state fairgrounds. We had that down pat, until they cancelled the show.

In 1993, we bought season tickets to the new St. Paul Saints. And guess what? They have fireworks three times every season: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and the final game of the year. And fireworks at the Saints means huge shells, lots of them, and a couple of false finales so good than when the real finale comes, you find yourself laughing because it’s so fabulous and because you’d been silly enough to think the show was over 10 or 15 minutes earlier.

Yes, we’ll be together tonight, watching from our first-row seats, wiping ash off our faces if the breeze blows in from right field. We’ll be wishing the grandkids could stay up late enough to join us. We’ll be saluting the flag and humming the patriotic tunes because we learned during the 1960s that it’s not a good thing for liberals to abandon the symbols of patriotism to the right. And we’ll be reveling in the fact that this comfortable life we’ve built together includes fabulous fireworks two miles from home.
 

15 comments:

Abby said...

Wish we could be there to join you! And Eric said that if Augie was healthy, he would've argued to let the kiddos try to stay up for the fireworks tonight . . . . . .

FabuLeslie said...

Oh, you make me wanna go out and find some fireworks tonight! I have fond memories of living in Las Vegas, heading out to my balcony with my then boyfriend, and using our perfect view of the strip to enjoy fireworks shows from 3 different hotels for each of the big fireworks holidays. Good times. Tonight, I will be quietly enjoying the holiday at home with the dog.

Jeanie said...

We used to be able to watch our town's fireworks from our deck, but they are cancelled this year due to the economy. It sounds like you will have the perfect view from the perfect spot. I love fireworks at baseball games.

DJan said...

I can see the fireworks over Bellingham Bay from my back deck, but the trees obscure a lot of them. It doesn't really matter, though, because I'm happy just being here, being with my own special person, and it looks like rain here anyway...

Kathy said...

I love fireworks. We actually got to see a nice show from our son's front yard last night. It took place a mile away at the race track! Have a great evening!

Respectfully Yours said...

I love fireworks too, especially when they are put to music. Happy 4th of July.

gayle said...

We just watched my son in law do fireworks for our grandson. Small but beautiful!!

Christine said...

We're just starting out as you know, our children very young. And alreayd we're tending toward at-home celebrations with just the four of us. It's easier and so much more meaningful in many ways. I enjoy a big crowd on occassion, but I do not enjoy a crowd when I'm with my children.

Happy belated 4th of July to you my friend!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

This is ia great post and I especially love the last paragraph. It was a mistake to abandon the symbols of patriotism to the "other side." The country's still paying for that error in many ways.

Cheryl said...

I could just visualize your first 4th of July with John! I'm with him, by the way. I'd rather watch 'em from somewhere beyond the madding crowd.

Allyson said...

Simply put: the best fireworks are the most accessible ones. While we somehow missed fireworks altogether this year, we did get to see them while we were in Hawaii...apparently they do them EVERY Friday in Honolulu. I hope they were beautiful and bountiful and you had more false finales than you could shake a stick at!

Emma said...

Love this: "it’s not a good thing for liberals to abandon the symbols of patriotism to the right."

grammy said...

Great story
we always look for the RIGT show
now I mostly want to see the kids reaction
the three year old was a little disappointed this time when it was over
she said
tht is not the end....it was not BIG
and she held her arms out as far as she could (o:

Jenny said...

Great post!!!

Nancy said...

I have to admit that I wish we had attended the Minnesota Fair while we lived there. I mean, after all, will I ever have another chance to try a deep fried twinkie?

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