Finally my wish came true! I was in the States for Independence Day, July 4th 2010, a holiday that movies, books, and popular culture have turned into a symbol of the American culture.
Yes, it is true that at least two weeks before the Fourth of July, Americans adorn their homes’ windows, porches, front doors, and gardens with flags. Shop windows are decorated with stripes and stars, and there is all sorts of merchandise for the occasion: everything from patriotic blue-red-and-white costumes for kids to different holiday promotions for adults.
In Plymouth, Massachusetts, the celebration starts on the night of July 3rd with huge bonfires on the white beaches. People drink and have cookouts since sundown and carry on through the night. Every house is full of joyous New-Englanders, and the local police are pretty respectful towards the obnoxiously loud music, the open containers, the hazardous fires, and the underage party-goers.
The parades on the morning of July 4th are a favorite ritual for the kids, but I decided I was well past that age. Instead, I joined an all-day get-together and barbeque at my host’s friends’ house. I was pleasantly surprised to see that July 4th is not so much a time to fight aliens like in Independence Day or to listen to speeches about social injustice like in Born on the Fourth of July, but rather a time to relax with one’s family.
The real celebration begins at night. I learned that the nation’s premier show for July 4th is not the Washington or New York one, but precisely the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular.
This year was the 37th anniversary of the event. For those who are familiar with the city, Storrow Drive was closed for cars and literally packed with pedestrians. There were flags, balloons, and fluorescent light sabers; hot dog, ice-cream and clam chowder stands; people with painted faces, festive hats, and whistles. Some enthusiasts had put up tents on the Esplanade along the Charles River since sunrise, so that they could be close to the stage and have a perfect view of the fireworks.
Boston Pops (listen online), an orchestra that usually performs light classical and popular music in the summertime, played from the Hatch Shell for almost 800,000 people.
The fireworks that followed were truly breathtaking! The 20-minute masterpiece of pyrotechnics was firing from a platform in the middle of the Charles. The fireworks lit up the sky in the shapes of the American flag, planets, Irish shamrock, and hearts, and every other color combination imaginable!
Next stop, seeing the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve!