As holidays can become routine, I believe the 2015 version of America’s Independence Day celebration will be remembered for a long time.
If I take a quick stroll down my 4th of July Memory Lane, I’d have to start in Torrance, California, where the most anticipated part of the holiday was going down to the local fireworks stand and buying as many “Safe & Sane” fireworks as possible. Smokey Joes, Piccolo Petes (which, if you clamped them around the P of Pete, they’d whistle, then explode), Snakes, Fountains, Pinwheels and Sparklers. Our budget always topped out at under $20, enabling dad to repeat that traditional phrase, “I don’t know why we don’t just light a $20 bill on fire.”
I remember one 4th of July being back in South Dakota and visiting relatives and how jealous I was that they could buy firecrackers. Like 100 of them for $2! How cool was that?
When my teen years arrived, fireworks bans began to show up and I drifted towards the big displays. In my radio days, a lot of my 4ths were spent at either Gasworks Park or Myrtle Edwards Park along the Seattle waterfront, as the radio station I worked for would be the sponsor and that would mean a day down there, followed by a traffic nightmare getting home.
In time, I would bag out and skip the big display to be able to enjoy the holiday in my cul-de-sac. A spending binge rivaling the Cold War would break out, as neighbors would head up to “Boom City” on the Reservation and bring back weapons that North Korea is not allowed to have. After a while, the routine was wait until a hint of darkness, start lighting off mortars, Roman Candles and everything that boomed, let them cool down overnight and then get up the next morning and sweep the street. How we managed not to burn down the neighborhood, I’ll never know.
Now that Washington State is one big tinderbox, I’m really good with not lighting anything on fire that could cause an even bigger one. We might catch a big display, we might not. The past decade or so, my big thrill is the annual Freedom Festival Parade in little old Bothell. Nothing fancy, I get to see lots of old friends, the sidewalks are packed and I do the play-by-play on the City Cable Channel for those who want to go back and watch themselves later, or who couldn’t make it.
This is a tradition that has been going on in the city since 1906 and the lawn chairs have been out since Monday to reserve spaces.
And while this could be routine, this year just feels special. Temperatures will be around 90-degrees, the Grand Marshalls are the Bothell High School Football Team, which celebrated a state championship last year for the very first time. The stores had a decorating contest this year and the place just looks festive. Add to that the holiday this year lands on a Saturday, which means everyone got a Friday off and people are just ready to celebrate.
Our after-parade event has become heading over to Annette & Mike Dwyer, Victoria’s former boss, where we just hang, relax and enjoy the day. We might head out and catch a display, or maybe just go home and watch the big Seattle show on TV.
If you’re in the area, would love to have you swing by and say hi. Victoria & I and a few assorted family members will be mid-way on Main Street. Just look for the TV crew and the scaffolding.
I hope you and yours enjoy a great, safe Independence Day weekend and that it’s your most memorable one yet. Oh, and if you have a flag, fly it proudly.