July Fourth Festival

It’s back to work after taking a week off during the Independence Day holiday. I didn’t plan to miss a week of writing an essay, it simply happened because of the long holiday weekend and the day off on Monday; every day felt like a Saturday until Wednesday came and wham! I missed my normal essay writing day.

The time off was not undeserved; the two weeks around the 4th require extra work to keep two skittish dogs occupied during the nightly explosions. I’m not sure why people feel the need to blow things up for two solid weeks rather than confine their festivities to the actual holiday. I’m not sure why they choose to light hundreds of hard earned dollars on fire. I can only assume they are the same people that spend hundreds of extra dollars to make their vehicles loud. One thing I am certain of: they are not pet owners.

In my hometown, a festival coincided with the holiday weekend. The festivities included a carnival, and a ticketed celebration area with local food vendors in a series of tents and live music. The ticketed area required a small entrance fee, which according to my wife (who volunteered in the admissions tent one of the first days), was so small anyone choosing not to pay could be considered a cheapskate. Yet there were many who complained about the fee, despite looking like they recently spent three times as much on their fast food lunch, and would probably spend ten times more on beer. Perhaps they were bitching because they recently spent hundreds of dollars on colorful explosives.

In my old hometown, there was no such city-sanctioned holiday festival, unless I include the indirectly sanctioned nightly booms and blasts of illegal fireworks. These did not occur during the two weeks around the 4th, rather they stared Easter Sunday and lasted until winter’s first snowfall.

My current berg’s festival was busiest on the 4th, partly due to a popular headlining musical act, and partly because everyone in town – except those working the festival – was off work. The seating area near the bandstand was packed, and the lines in front of the food vendors packed tighter. Meanwhile, my wife and I found several empty tables outside the area that required admission; we sat there with a clear view of the stage and the dozens-of-people-long admission line. Yes, we were cheapskates, and brought our own beverages.

The highlight of our evening was watching the people standing in the admission line, noting the ridiculous clothing choices some people make in order to be seen. Festival grounds that amounted to a mushy pit, dirt still soft from the recent rains, minimally covered by wood shavings to give the ground the squishy feeling of unbaked clay, did not deter some women from wearing high heels. The swarms of mosquitoes did not stop some from wearing clothing seemingly designed to trap the bugs within, allowing the tastiest body parts easy access for bloodsucking. The fact that the festival was hot and muggy, and warranted summer outdoor casual, did not stop some from wearing clothing two stitches shy of formal wear. There are few things that are as sadly hilarious as designer clothes with ketchup and beer stains. But I suppose some people spend their hundreds of dollars on one-use clothing instead of one-use explosives.

Finally came the fireworks. A computer glitch ended the display before the requisite finale. The fifteen minutes of fireworks were followed by an hour and a half of people trying to get out of the parking lot and the neighborhood. My wife and I sat in our front yard watching the real fireworks display: the one coming from the mouths of irate drivers gridlocked on the street in front of our house. And our dogs rested contently, knowing, as long as those people were tied up in traffic, the lovers of loud booms and bangs would not be lighting off their own explosives.