14 July 2013

Fireworks and Ice

Mike and I have been talking about some other memorable fireworks displays we've seen in our past. Here are a few that stand out:

- When we were first married, we lived in Dearborn, Michigan. Each year in August, Dearborn celebrates with a Homecoming event. This is for all those that lived there, past and present. Past-timers return for the weekend, see the City displays, shop their old fave stores, picnic with friends, play old-fashioned kid games like three-legged sack races and such.

Among the many festivities is always a fabulous fireworks display at Ford Field Park. I remember one particular year when Tchaikovsky's The 1812 Overture was synchronized with the fireworks. That was the first time we experienced this coordinated production and it was spot on. It made you stand up on your feet and cheer for Dearborn and the USA.

- Another summer, we attended a Detroit Express (last played in 1980-81 for Detroit, became the Washington Diplomats, and then folded after one seasonsoccer game. This event was at the Pontiac Silverdome (http://silverdome-architect.blogspot.com). Anyway, after the game people were shooting fireworks off in the parking lot.

Our friend, Bruce, happened to have a Roman candle. He set it up in a pop bottle, lit it, and oh, boy. The bottle fell over and the rocket shot horizontally a few inches off the concrete in a hot and speedy direction. We all hopped in the car and scrambled out of there as fast as that rocket. The next day we were all checking the newspaper to see if anyone was reported hurt. No such article. I guess everything was ok, but to this day I wonder and still feel a bit guilty.

- Frankfort, Michigan, is where Mike's grandparents owned cherry orchards and he spent many a youthful summer vacation working the orchards with his cousins. So we often drifted there on adult getaways to enjoy the sleepy little town on Lake Michigan. One thing we tried not to miss was the July 4th fireworks off the long breakwater that goes out into the lake. There is also a lighthouse at the end of that pier and it is silhouetted by the fiery display. Fireworks can be seen in the sky as well as in the reflection of the water. People line up all along the sandy shore to see the wonderful display. Pretty romantic, too, huddled and cuddled on the beach.

- On our first 4th in Half Moon Bay, California, the fireworks were close-up and personal. The official show is shot into the sky from a raft out in the Pacific Ocean near Princeton Harbor. Highway 1 runs along the shore there, with beach on one side. On the other side is an up-sloped, weedy field. People from the five nearby towns park and gather on this slope to watch the display over the ocean.

This first year, however, there were no limits on personal fireworks, so everyone and their brother/sister/father/aunt/dog had the biggest and best fireworks money could buy. Up and down the coast in this field, they were shooting off in every direction, firing horizontally a few feet off the ground, exploding on the ground, lifting high or low, and dive bombing back into the crowd. It was so insane that I felt like I was in a war zone. I can't imagine what Viet Nam might  have looked liked, but this certainly was a glimpse. As far as we know, thankfully no one was hurt. And the dry weeds "only" had a "few little fires." By the next year there were some strict laws put in place and a lot more police presence, so no instant replay.

- Most years in Half Moon Bay in the summer the air is filled with a low fog. More than a few years of our 20 years there, we watched the fireworks through the clouds. You couldn't see any details, but more a puff of color. Not your ideal fireworks show, but beautiful in its own way. 

- This isn't about fireworks, but about fog. My friend Lisa and I would go to Fog Fest every year in September in Pacifica (a town about 20 miles north of HMB). They called it Fog Fest for a reason, because it was usually fogged in. Each year they would have an air show with jets doing acrobatics, but (big BUT) we maybe saw it only two times in 15 years because it was all happening above the fog!! One thing we didn't miss was their special cocktail call the Fog Cutter. Um, good.

- Fireworks in Kalamazoo is a treat. They happen twice a year--on the 4th of July and New Years at midnight. As I said, up until last year for the 4th, they had displayed a show from the minor league stadium here, but not currently. I'm sure glad we still have that wonderful view along the horizon I told you about in our last blog entry.

For New Years, there is also a fiery display along the whole horizon. In addition, the City has a family celebration and a huge fireworks display that is shot off from the Radisson Hotel parking lot right behind our building. We usually have a few family and friends over, we all get a glass of champagne or cider, bundle up, and go round the building outside to watch the up-close (but safe) display. They are so close that you are almost looking straight up to seem them.

One year it was just Mike and I. Snowflakes drifted slowly down. We plopped on a parked bench, wrapped in each others arms, and watched the display. One of our most romantic moments ever, in my opinion.

Usually there is snow on the ground, but none falling. Three years ago was a fantastic exception. It was snowing VERY hard. So cool to watch the fireworks through the snowflakes. They lit up in different colors and it was like being in fairyland. The flakes felt so refreshing on our faces. The cold flakes against the fiery sky was a unique experience.

The last couple of years, the New Years fireworks have been launched off the public parking ramp, about three blocks away, BUT on our side of the building. We could actually go out on our balcony and stretch our necks slightly over the side for a great view. Not quite as good a view as from the Radisson, but on the other hand, quite convenient.

Can't think of anymore of "the best" fireworks ever, but sure a lot of good memories came to mind once we started talking about it. Hope your 4th fireworks show was safe and spectacular. Photos are from various events taken from our Kalamazoo balcony.

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.