Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Fourth of July: My Favorite Independence Day Celebration

My favorite Independence Day I spent with Kevin and his family in Rochester, New York, on Lake Ontario. I was used to having a cook-out with my parents and sisters and usually going somewhere to see a legal fireworks display, but the Fourth of July at the cottage with Kevin’s family was something entirely different.

It was one big fun free-for-all. Kevin’s sisters, his nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, and cousins by the dozens had a tradition of gathering at the cottage on July 4th to enjoy a fun-filled day of playing, eating, talking, swimming, boating, and of course watching fireworks. Both sides of Kevin’s family were milling in and out of the cottage throughout the day and into the night.  Friends would show up to talk for a bit. Neighbors came by to say hi.

The weather for my first big summer party at the cottage was nice and sunny. The badminton net was set up in the yard. The water wasn’t too choppy for boating. The tide was low enough there was a decent strip of beach available for building sandcastles (and later a bonfire). The grill had been cleaned and was ready to go. We had tons of food. Hamburgers, hot dogs, potato chips, corn on the cob, his dad’s famous fruit salad, huge slices of watermelon, all kinds of drinks as well as plenty of sunscreen and bug spray to share.
Kevin and I played some intense games of badminton. Normally, the two of us played the way my family prefers when no one else was around—meaning no net, no boundaries, just keep the birdie in the air at all costs. But I agreed to play with the actual rules, boundaries, a net, and keeping score.
After we finished a doubles match, Kevin and I got Popsicles and sat on the porch eating them while his cousins played. One of his cousins started doing sound effects that made the pair of them even more hilarious to watch. Every single time he swung, he would grunt or groan like the Wimbledon players do. He even shouted out the score with a British accent. Good times, good times.
I’m not sure if it was before, after, or during my first Independence Day celebration with Kevin’s family that I learned about some of their previous Fourth of July bashes. Kevin told me that one year someone on shore set off a bottle rocket which hit the boat that he and his friends were in. The bonfire they had every year usually got so big it would set the deck and/or the neighbor’s tree on fire. This tradition prompted Kevin’s aspiring firefighter friend to stand at the ready with the garden hose. (Said friend is now a volunteer firefighter in East Rochester. No really, he is.)
My first year being a part of these holiday traditions, Kevin and I went out on the boat to watch the fireworks. It was awesome to see the fireworks from out in the water. The reflection of the lights on the water and the increased visibility—usually trees, houses, a stage, or something were in the way of me seeing the entire spectrum of the show—made the night that much more spectacular.
The big display of fireworks set off from Charlotte Beach was on our left and the significantly smaller, definitely illegal fireworks show put on by Kevin’s family members was to our right. We held each other close as we let out the necessary oohs and ahhs that, of course, enhance any light show.
Fun, food, fireworks, laughter, and romance—what a great mix! Hope your Independence Day includes at least three of those ingredients. Happy Fourth of July!
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