This weekend we celebrate Independence Day. I hope everyone is having a safe and healthy weekend.
However you choose to celebrate Independence Day, I think this year will be one that we will certainly remember for a long time. But, I’m going to leave the pressing issues of our times aside this Sunday in honor of the birth of our nation and it’s independence.
I’m not doing anything this weekend, so I was reflecting on some of my more memorable Independence Day celebrations. Thinking back, it’s difficult to recall the many years of celebrations shared with family and friends. I think it’s mostly because they’re very similar. Usually a cookout with family and friends, and ending the day at a community fireworks show. Maybe just a day at home with food, drinks and the Macy’s fireworks show on TV.
But, sometimes there’s those memories that you just can’t forget.
One of those memories is vague due to my age, but I remember celebrating Independence Day on Cape Cod with my family. We would spend the week at the beach, playing miniature golf, having cookouts and visiting the local ice cream shop. The beaches on Cape Cod had the most unusual tides I’ve ever seen. At low tide, it seemed like we could walk out into the ocean for miles. It wasn’t that far, but it seemed that way when you’re a little kid. I remember there was an abandoned ship in the ocean visible from the shoreline and I kept hoping the tides would go out far enough for me to get to that ship. They never did.
The low tide created multiple sandbars with large pools of water in between them. The challenge was walking through the waters without bumping into crabs under the sand. Those crabs were mean and they would snap at you. The occasional horseshoe crab really scared us. It was just one of the many fortunate experiences my parents made sure my brother, sister and I had the pleasure of enjoying. My kids had similar trips thanks to my parents too.
Our family moved to upstate New York and onto Connecticut several years later. There we traditionally spent our Independence Days at the largest lake in our town, which included a town recreation area with its own beach.
This is where I spent most of my summer. The lake was large enough to take sailing lessons, which became one of my favorite things to do. Most of the kids I went to school with gathered at somewhere on the lake. There were some private beach clubs around the lake where we would meet up with others, but more importantly, the girls. Hence the interest in sailing.
Independence Day at the town lake was packed. Families and friends had cookouts while the kids ran around and explored all the many things to do. The day always finished up with the town’s annual fireworks display, launched from the lake. It wasn’t a big display, but that was okay.
As an adult, some of my best memories are right here in Southwest Florida at 4th Fest in Punta Gorda, North Port High School or attending a Stone Crabs game with fireworks to follow. Since I moved out to the Englewood area a few years ago, I was looking forward to seeing the Englewood show. Maybe next year.
Some of the best times, a family cookout with my own dangerous fireworks display for the family to enjoy. It usually ended with some type of finger burns for me due to fast wicks, but I didn’t mind. Of course, the neighbors and the dogs probably didn’t appreciate my pyrotechnics.
The most memorable year was a whim. It was a weekend in early June and I was actually thinking ahead to the Fourth of July weekend. I wanted to do something different. I started searching for the largest fireworks displays in America. I bumped into the Macy’s fireworks display in New York City. I thought to myself, that would be really cool. I haven’t been back to NYC in a long time.
I got lucky. While looking at an overpriced rooftop party for the best viewing location, I noticed an ad for the same hotel offering a room deal. It was the Ink 48 Hotel overlooking the Hudson River with floor to ceiling windows, so I booked it.
The trip to New York for a week included visiting family in Connecticut, Time Square, The View above Time Square, the Russian Tea Room, a lot of time exploring Central Park, a sailboat ride around the Statue of Liberty, “Wicked,” a Yankees game (they won!), Grand Central Station, Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant (that was expensive, but worth it), the Empire State building, Little Italy and of course the most amazing fireworks display I’ve ever seen in person. The barges were directly in front of the hotel room. A perfect view.
It was an experience I will always remember. I hated to leave New York with so much more to see. I really wanted to see the World Trade Center memorial, but my subway navigation skills were terrible. I was not prepared for detours due to subway repairs, so Little Italy and one of New York’s famous pizzerias took the place of the memorial.
I hope to do a similar trip again someday.
If this year’s Independence Day wasn’t the most memorable experience for you due to the difficult times we’re all in, I hope next year will be better for you. Creating memorable experiences for our loved ones is always exciting, but it doesn’t have to be an overpriced vacation. Just spending time with each other and celebrating how blessed we are to live in the United States of America is what really matters.