We are a family that has struggled over the years to try to nail down a tradition for Independence Day. In contrast to Thanksgiving or Christmas - there's no set thing we do for this holiday. But, we have been on the look-out. We certainly have a special plan for the night before, but nothing for the "day of". Over the years, we've hung out at Camp Harlow's picnic - a nice time, but less appealing once they stopped offering the bumper boats and go-carts, we've napped while "Independence Day" (Will Smith movie) has shown on tv, we've ran the Butte to Butte (my feelings on that are: been there, accomplished it, don't need to attempt again) and finally, last year, we tried the St. Paul Rodeo. (The rodeo was a major let-down for a lot of reasons - I had fun posting about that last year). We've also hung out a friends' house for her neighborhood block party - which has been a lot of fun in the past, while they light some rather sophisticated home fireworks, but the reality is, we've never taken the kids to see a big fireworks display. Crazy, huh? So, this was the year we intended to make that happen.
The plan was to head about 70 minutes west to our closest coastal town, Florence. We had heard they have a pretty dynamic fireworks show, but there were a lot of questions: Would there be parking? How early do we need to arrive? Where would we sit and would there be room? By the time 4 o'clock came around yesterday, we very nearly backed out of it with the Whites. Our own side patio was looking pretty inviting, with all of the leftovers from Friday night's party.
But, we decided to go for it after all - and realized that arriving at "Old Town Florence" by around 6pm did indeed merit us ideal parking and the primo lounger chair location on the boardwalk, right next to the live band (not too loud, just perfect) and right in front of the barge where the fireworks were to go off. The only catch, we were about 3 and a half hours early for the "main event" - so we had plenty of time to kill. The good news, there were plenty of vendors and stores set up to accommodate our boredom......
John and Brayden took the first shift of strolling around. Brayden LOVED the special time with just Daddy - he commented that he wanted to repeat the whole tradition - especially that part.
They ended up here - a place for incredible ice cream and salt water taffy.
Mikayla and I, on the other hand, waited a while before we left our comfy chairs. I was actually nursing a headache (ugh....the good news, I get to see Mom today, so I'm hoping she works her usual wonders), so I was good to take it easy, especially after the very curvy drive over.
As an act of incredible kindness, John and Brayden walked over to this booth first, before taking off on their adventures, to snag an Elephant Ear for Mikayla and I to split. It was quite good, and a good sign that we were starting off "right" - given last year's "Elephant Ear Drama" =)
With anything, there's always the "What went right?", and "What would we do differently?" questions to consider when evaluating if we'll repeat the experience. What went right was the Whites instigating bringing the big "Anti-gravity" reclining loungers, prompting us to pack ours. They were IDEAL! And, the envy of a lot of "passer-byers", particularly as we had them completely reclined back to watch the overhead fireworks. As for the the "What would we do differently?" question - pack more blankets! In fact, a sleeping bag per person would have been ideal, as well as warmer clothes. It's hard when it's nearing on 80 degrees in the valley to anticipate being cold on the coast, but it seems to happen every time. Even when the forecast says mid 60's (and mid 50's by fireworks launching time), you forget to anticipate the chill factor of the perpetual coastal wind. BRRRRR!
The fireworks show was indeed dazzling. As we were sitting next to where the band was originally playing, we got the extra treat of hearing the recorded patriotic music strumming through the speakers along with the light show. It was so cozy. The kids ended up cuddling on each of us, and as we sat there, we made names for each kind of fireworks along with our ooohs and aahhhhs - "fireflies", "paparazzi" (those are the ones that look like a bunch of flashbulbs at the end - Brayden's naming, I thought that was pretty clever), "fairy dust", "shooting stars", etc. It was then that I felt almost bad that this was the first time we had given them such an experience (outside of Disneyland/Disneyworld). Which further reinforced why we might just have found our new Fourth of July tradition.......