Independence Day has some great memories for me. For many years, there was a vacant lot in our neighborhood and, one year, the people on the block just randomly decided to have a picnic on the 4th. The morning would begin with people dragging picnic tables, grills, and chairs and getting them set up for later. There were other sporadic activities during the day and then there would be food. Where I grew up, fireworks were illegal so all you could have were things that set off sparks with no booms and so we’d set them off after dark.
There were years when the adults had a little too much to drink and someone got the bright idea of tossing sparklers across the street. Granted, they looked cool sailing overhead in an arc. Until one landed in a pile of brush and set a small fire which we had to go put out.
Once we moved to our current location, we started going to an outdoor venue where our symphony would play and they’d end the night with fireworks. Over the years, my parents came down a few times to join us. Mom would always end up singing anything they played that she knew – even if it wasn’t supposed to be a sing along. We only skipped one year when we had a long hot summer and it was over 100 degrees and so dry that they weren’t going to be able to do the fireworks.
Like most things, the celebration on the 4th was a victim of the pandemic. When they first announced that they were bringing it back this year, the crowds were going to be limited and they were going to require masks while waiting in line or if you were moving about (like going to the bathroom). As if the virus could only get you while you were standing up or moving.
They also required buying tickets for specific shows. In the past, you could just buy a pack of tickets and use them on whatever night you wished since they do more than just the Independence Day shows. So you could play it by ear and make a last minute decision based on the weather which doesn’t always cooperate. We made the call to go on the 2nd.
With new guidance from the CDC, they ditched the mask requirement and also went back to closer to full capacity. Although it still required buying a ticket for a specific show so the crowds were limited. In the past, you could end up with almost every square foot of ground covered.
As it happened, we picked a perfect night. The temperatures were a little cooler than average – topping out in the upper 70s and there was no humidity at all. It actually got a little chilly when the sun went down and the breeze picked up. Before the show, they had the presidents of the symphony and the place where the concerts are held come out and welcome us back. And the show did not disappoint. We ended up downwind from the fireworks used during the 1812 Overture so it briefly got a bit smoky. Then again, for me, the smell of sulfur does bring back memories of setting off other things so I didn’t mind that much.
I can’t tell you how good it felt to just be there. It was like doing the Showcase about a month ago. Things that you start to take for granted until they are taken away. There were a few masked faces in the crowd but I think most were either vaccinated or just over it. I wasn’t expecting it to feel the way it did and I don’t really have the words to describe it. And we’ve certainly had things open up so it is not at all like it was last year but this is one the first “big” things we’ve done and so it was probably just getting back to something closer to life pre-pandemic. Like we’ve taken the worst of it and now we are putting it behind us.
To be fair, I have to acknowledge that the case numbers have crept up a bit. I guess we are one of the places where the dreaded Delta is taking over. For sure, the numbers are far lower than they were even just back in April but they are going up a bit. I’ll do another post tomorrow just to cover the actual numbers. For now, I’ll just leave it alone since I’m focusing on the happy parts of post pandemic life.