Repost: The magic of the Fourth of July is in the details

Repost: The magic of the Fourth of July is in the details

This blog post was originally from July 1, 2010, and I thought I'd repost it today, in honor of the Fourth of July.


Blog PhotoTyping up submissions from readers who celebrate birthdays on the Fourth of July reminded me why I love the upcoming holiday. (You can read the story in Sunday's Features section.)

In many of the stories submitted, it's the details that people love and remember fondly, not just the fact that their birthdays are combined with a fun, festive national holiday.

Details like eating cake with family members at a picnic, or catching fireflies after a fireworks show or enjoying a parade are the ones that stick out.

I'm not lucky enough to have a July 4 birthday, but our readers' stories reminded me why the holiday is so special. It's in the details.

I grew up across the street from Pells Park in Paxton and always assumed it was the biggest and best ever park.

Every year, the excitement would build at the park around noon July 3. Vendors would appear, popping up tents and running cords. Antique cars and trucks would putter in, and buntings went up around the grand old pavilion.

I could hardly sleep the night before the Fourth of July, too wound up at the prospect of Boy Scout snow cones and sweet lemon shakeups from the Junior Women's Club stand. My mom put in her time at that old stand each year, and sometimes I'd get to help her. It was sticky work.

We'd buy barbecue sandwiches from the 4-H club for lunch and wouldn't have to use the public restrooms, because, hey, we lived across the street. We didn't lock our doors, even when the neighborhood was crawling with people.

Later, we'd walk down to the grade school's field for fireworks while neighbor kids whizzed sparklers and popped firecrackers. We didn't usually get any for ourselves (that's what happens when your family has two little girls) but they sure smelled good.

My parents eventually moved away from the park, but we still went to the Fourth of July celebration there every year.

Now that I'm older and no longer living in Paxton, the Old Fashioned Fourth of July isn't always on my agenda. I've been boating, to cookouts and out of town visiting family during more recent Fourths of July.

And even when I go, the Junior Women's Club no longer makes the lemon shake-ups. My Eagle Scout cousin who always worked the snow cone booth is no longer with us.

Maybe this is the power of nostalgia (which seems to be magnified with any holiday, especially the one coming soon), but the Fourth of July just isn't the same as an adult.

OK, let's hear them – what are your favorite Fourth of July memories? What details stick out in your mind?

Photo is courtesy of Will Brumleve of the Paxton Record: Ron Morrison, portraying Uncle Sam, and Donna Howe, portraying Betsy Ross, on every Independence Day hand out American flags to people
attending the Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration.

Blog Photo

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