Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Sousa and Ice Cream and Fireworks!!

on July 8, 2011
A view of a sign at Penn State University Crea...

Image via Wikipedia

I love the idea of the Fourth of July.  Growing up, we never had big celebrations as a family. Usually we would pick up some fireworks and set them off in our street along with the neighbors. The joy of growing up next to an Indian Reservation, there were some doozies around! We’d usually spend the day playing in our wading pool, have a barbeque for dinner, and then wait until dark. Being north of Seattle, this didn’t usually happen until nearly 10pm.

As I got into high school and moved to PA, the 4th took on a different meaning. Living in a smaller town, we had a more community based celebration. I was somehow involved in the party almost every year I lived there in a variety of different ways.

Just after my high school graduation, our jazz band played a concert at the Central PA 4th Fest. We were getting ready to leave for our European tour the next week and this gave us a great opportunity to practice. It was the first time that I realized what a big celebration this was. It rivaled Penn State Tailgating, which is saying something. It all led up to the big fireworks celebration, rumored to be on of the top ten displays in the country. Each Independence Day, the State College Municipal Band performed “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Phillip Sousa. This classic patriotic song gets stuck in my head pretty much every year.

A few years later, I volunteered/was volunteered to help scoop ice cream at the 4h Fest as part of a fundraiser for our community theatre. The Penn State Creamery is known for their ice cream (they taught Ben and Jerry how to do it!) and they set up stands for community groups to man. They supplied the ice cream and a supervisor, we supplied the man power. For four hours straight, I scooped out Death by Chocolate, Peachy Paterno, and Keeney Beany Vanilla. We found our groove pretty quickly and worked like a well-oiled machine, dishing it our for the never ending line in 90 degree weather. While this had the potential for becoming a miserable experience, it really was a lot of fun with a great group of people and made a lot of money for our community playhouse.

Starting the night after the ice cream experience and continuing for several years after that, I had fantastic seats to view the huge fireworks display.  I mean great seats – the type where you feel each concussion hit you at the same time as you see the lights.  Most years we had great weather – still warm and dry. However, one year in particular, the weather was decidedly not great. It had been raining off and on all day and we were hoping it would clear up by dusk. No such luck. I remember standing there, looking up at the fireworks with the rain hitting my face. Fortunately it wasn’t too heavy at that point. However, as soon as the fireworks were done, the skies opened up and it poured. My friends and I had opted to walk to the festivities so we didn’t have to deal with parking. It didn’t really matter at this point because we were already soaked. I distinctly remember walking through the rainy traffic, jumping in puddles, being toasted by a party on the front porch of a house, and singing all the way home. We got back to the house, stripped off the wet clothes (changing into something dry, of course) and throwing everything we’d been wearing into the drier so we could wear it home. It wasn’t the ideal 4th celebration, but to this day it is one of my most memorable and one of my favorites.

And now I leave you with a little Stars and Stripes ala Muppets…


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