I mention all of the above only because I’m so extremely pleased by my experience this year. This was our fourth Fourth (and likely our final Fourth) of July in Tallahassee. One thing I absolutely love about this town is that, at its most manic, it’s not that bad. The busiest, most crowded places I’ve been have been quite tolerable. I’ll miss that if I ever move to a larger city (which I fully expect and hope to do). But even the Fourth of July can get a bit hectic around here. Probably the very worst crowd situation I’ve dealt with in Tally came two years ago, when Melanie and I took the kids to the fireworks show at Tom Brown Park. Tom Brown Park offers the granddaddy of fireworks shows in Tallahassee, and we found ourselves about as close to the show as was possible. It took forever getting out afterwards, and I hoped not to repeat that in the future. Last year, we ended up learning about a fireworks show that takes place at a small lake even nearer to our home than Tom Brown Park. We celebrated the Fourth at the lake in 2011, and it worked out beautifully. It still took some time getting out afterwards, but nothing like the two previous years. This year, we again decided to take to the lake, and it was an even more blissful experience. Here’s a quick rundown of the night’s events.
At about 745pm, we arrive at the lake, having loaded up on treats/snacks at a nearby Circle K. We pull right up to the park area in front of the lake, as close as you could possibly get to the “seating” area without driving onto the grass and killing people. A better parking spot could not have been had. As we get out of the van, the kids are excited by the presence of inflatable bounce houses. We didn’t see those last year, but it may be because we were slightly more removed and more late-coming to the festivities. I’m not convinced they were new this year. Regardless, the bounce houses were free. They were also giving away free snow cones, and possibly free burgers. The kids played in the bounce houses a couple of times during the approximately 90-minute wait until the firework show began. They also ran around a fair deal. The humidity was worse than I can remember it being since we’ve moved here, but everyone remained in fairly good spirits. We enjoyed our treats and the wait time passed quickly enough.
At approximately 915pm, someone sang the national anthem and the firework show got underway. Eddie and Peter were both fascinated. Eddie felt extreme pride over his lack of fear. Last year, the noise had frightened him enough that he didn’t even want to look at the fireworks. He refused to watch, even with his ears covered. When the show was over, he was devastated that he had missed it all. Needless to say, I was quite pleased that Eddie was nothing but enamored of the fireworks this year. He kept his ears covered, but as he himself proudly and loudly proclaimed to us in mid-show, he wasn’t scared at all. Sadly, the same cannot be said of Creegan. Before the official fireworks show got underway, some nearby residents were setting off fireworks. They were the kind that shoot up into the air and explode, but they were obviously nothing in comparison to the “real” fireworks. Creegan was curious about these lesser fireworks, but they did nothing to prepare him for the official fireworks show. As soon as the official fireworks started to pop, Creegan scrambled into Melanie’s arms and held on tight, burying his face into her shoulder. After a moment or two, he climbed over to me and I held him for the remainder of the show. I kept my thumb over his left ear as he kept his right ear against my shoulder. He never looked up, despite our occasional encouragement. The rest of us enjoyed the show.
When the fireworks show ended, nobody scrambled to their feet in a desperate attempt to get out of there before the traffic (pedestrian and vehicular alike) swelled. The crowd offered an enthusiastic applause, sat there for an appreciative moment, and then casually gathered their things and calmly walked to their cars. Melanie pointed this out to me, and I find the behavior quite telling. I love the easygoing nature of a smaller city. But despite the calmness, I was worried about getting away from the lake. Our van could not have been more immersed in the festivities than it was, and I assumed it would take a while for us to get out of there. But it didn’t. I didn’t even have to wait to pull onto the road. Once on the road, we had to stop immediately. We waited for a few minutes before I decided to flip a U and go the other direction. Once I did that, there was no stopping whatsoever, other than for stop signs and traffic lights. There was no slow down at all. We were home ten minutes later. That we could attend a fireworks show, have an optimal parking spot and a premier spot of land on which to sit, and be home within 20 minutes of the show ending is absolutely staggering in my mind. God bless America! Or at least Tallahassee!
And now for some photos:
I’m including this photo, just so you can see how sweaty Creegan’s head is. The humidity was killer.
Happy birthday, America!!