7.12.2011

Fourth of July Traditions


When I was growing up, the Fourth of July was a pretty cool holiday. I lived in a town called Independence, after all. In later years my dad started a 4k run followed by a civic sponsored pancake breakfast. The cue the parade down 395 consisting of candy throwing firemen, old cars, horses, and children rollerblading around with squirt guns. The county courthouse then became the hub of an impressive crafts fair. Later a local park became a town picnic complete with music stage, huge vat of baked beans, and, one year, a frog jumping race. The freezing river provided extreme entertainment until the fireworks at the airport, announced by famous radio personalities from KDAY.

My level of nostalgia is up there with Schoenberg's Pierrot, though not quite as dark. :) Through the years, even though the magic of an Independence Fourth of July has faded, I've made an effort to punctuate our country's birthday with something special. One year I sight-read Debussy's Feux d'artifice, something like birthing pains for an intermediate pianist. Other times I've listened to Ives or Barber or played Yankee Doodle on a fife. This year I played Beethoven's "God save the King" Variations. At this point in my life it's the little things that matter.

It's also the traditional movies that matter. Jessica and I have made it a tradition even before we were married to watch perhaps the greatest of all Fourth of July movies: no, not Patriot, or Saving Private Ryan, or Pocahontas, every year we watch Independence Day (1996) with Will Smith, Bill Pullman, and Jeff Goldbloom. Every now and then you need a little cheese. This year we also watched Live Free or Die Hard (2007) for its very veiled Fourth of July reference. I guess you could say we celebrate privately.

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