The "worst" Fourth of July, and I'm putting "worst" in quotes because it pretty much is a relative comparison here, was in 1989 when my family went cross-country. We'd made it to Mount Rushmore by the Fourth, had our camp set up at a Kampgrounds Of America site (ah, KOA, how we loved your wacky spelling and copious amounts of videogames at the snack bar) behind the mountain and my stepfather decided we'd hang around the mountain on the Fourth because, well, of all the places to have a Fourth of July celebration, naturally the Shrine To Democracy would do it up pretty good, eh?
Wrong. I think they even closed early. (In later years, I realized yeah, concussive pyrotechnics around a delicate rock sculpture might not be such a hot idea.) Far below us one of the Black Hills towns was having their fireworks and we could see the little blooms of pyrotechnics from the Mount Rushmore parking lot, but you try telling three young boys that we couldn't go down to see it because by the time we made it down the mountain road and over to wherever it was it'd be over. Add to that the fact that the night before, we'd played bingo at the Kampground (kan't get enough of that wacky k) and I won $8 and my folks made me split it with my little brothers who did nothing to help me in my victory, and I was very sad indeed.
But on the other hand, we were going cross-country in a big Dodge Caravan, we'd already been to Chicago and Wall Drug and after Mount Rushmore we went to Bryce Canyon, and then after that a stop in Las Vegas, staying at Circus Circus and catching a Penn & Teller show at Caesar's Palace (one of the earliest Showtime Comedy All-Stars editions, if memory serves me correctly) and then (and then!!) once we reached California, we went to HOL-LY-WOOD and DIS-NEY-LAND. It was the best (and last) road trip my family ever went on but for some reason the fact that we didn't get our fireworks on the Fourth of July stuck out as a grand injustice in my mind.
Other Fourths stick out in my mind as memorable -- 1991, my first trip into Boston to see the Esplanade fireworks. I wore my "Capitalism Sucks" t-shirt (in Russian, of course) and felt very witty and counter-cultural about it the whole day. I navigated everybody on the T successfully, and all the small-town kids were in awe (I was a small-town kid too but that didn't mean I couldn't read maps.) Then I made out with my girlfriend in the back of the youth group van the entire way home. 1993 I was back in Boston, seeing a girl who lived out there in her own apartment and everything -- we watched the fireworks from the Mass Ave bridge. 2002 was a good year, watching the UMass fireworks with Jen from the side field by the Mullins Center. Last year a bunch of us hung out on the top of the Logan airport parking garage and had a decent view of Boston's show, as well as all the other communities around beforehand.
Right now I'm sitting in my apartment looking out my bedroom window towards the Pru. I have a pretty fair view of the larger of the Boston show's stuff -- the most spectacular bits, like the giant illuminated clouds and the ones that just light up the entire sky, I can see. The smaller ones I can kinda see but there are some trees and rooftops in the way. I have a tasty beverage in my hand and the cat is taking things in stride and I don't even have to crane my neck all that much to see the show. They're doing these beautiful gigantic spheres right now, bright yellow on the outside and cornflower blue on the inside, and my love for the fine people at Atlas Pyrotechnic has not diminished in the least. Earlier this evening I sat out on my deck and saw what appeared to be a small-time Cambridge show somewhere near Mass Ave, probably set off in a ballfield or something, and over on the horizon, I believe I caught Belmont's display. Someone was setting off roman candles in the playground halfway down Lowell Street and the neighborhood was full of whistles and claps and, in the basketball court below, excited Spanish chatter. It was the perfect night for this.
I'm glad I decided to stay in tonight. This was a fine way to spend the Fourth.