Tuesday, July 04, 2006


The image in my mind right now is that of a birthday cake with candles in the shape of a 2, a 3 and a 0 on top. Naturally, the icing is red, white and blue. It's America's birthday, a day for celebration. Our family loves to watch fireworks. Not the illegal, amateur kind but the big professional displays. Again this year we will head downtown for the Festival on the 4th at World's Fair Park. The fireworks will be presented by Pyro Shows, who are also putting on big shows in Nashville and Washington, DC.

When we lived in Burbank, we would go to the Starlight Bowl every July 4th. They'll have a concert tonight followed by a nice display of pyrotechnics. If you sit high enough up on the lawn, you can also see the Universal Studios fireworks in the distance. There were a few years when we didn't know enough to get tickets in advance for the Starlight Bowl and we ended up watching the fireworks from the top level of the parking garage at the Media City Center (now known as the Burbank Town Center) or from the railroad tracks that they turned into a bike path along Chandler Boulevard.

I only went to the fireworks in DC a couple of times. One year before I was married, a friend named Joe hosted a party in his apartment just off Maine Avenue with an amazing view of the Mall. My future wife was at the party with her date, who is now a lawyer in Las Vegas. My date for the evening is now a Fredericksburg City Council Member. Joe, our host, was soon to start a job working for Congressman Joe Barton. I haven't talked to him in years, so I Googled him a moment ago. Turns out he's chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Chairman Joe Kelliher. Imagine that!

Another year, WAVA sponsored a Beach Boys concert at the foot of the Washington Monument. It was their return to the Mall after the James Watt controversy. The other acts on the bill were Joan Jett, Jimmy Page and some others I can't remember (New Edition maybe?). The concert ran long and the fireworks started before the music ended.
The only way we could see the fireworks from the stage was by looking straight up in the air. Mr. T and John Stamos were both playing drums with the Beach Boys but Mr. T's drum kit was stuffed with towels to muffle the sound. There were more backup singers and musicians than there were Beach Boys on stage. Only the guy running the sound board knows for sure which microphones were turned on and which were turned off, although I have my suspicions. After the fireworks, Bean and I were told to go out on stage and ask the crowd to disperse peacefully and to put their trash in the garbage cans. The crowd pressed against the snow fencing and chanted at Bean and me: "F*** you, we want Page!"

Most years we got vacation time around the Fourth. Instead of staying in the DC area, we liked to drive up to the Hamptons. We would go to the parade in Southampton and seek out Paul Sidney of WLNG, who was broadcasting live from the red and white mobile bus.

My TiVo is set to record as many of the holiday specials as I can tonight. "A Capitol Fourth" is on PBS; "The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular" is on CBS; "The Macy's 4th of July Spectacular" is on NBC and "The Music City Spectacular" is on GAC.

As I type this, my family is enjoying our annual viewing of "1776," the greatest musical ever about the Declaration of Independence. What is your tradition?
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank, you're the man. That year that the Beach Boys came back was my older (probably about your age) brother's last year headed downtown for the show. I remember him coming home and telling me the story of how he and his friends gathered in a circle so that they could relieve themselves without having to wait in line at the port-a-potties. He spoke of his long day in the sun, looking at girls and drinking beer.

Being too young, I was always jealous that he got to go, while I stayed at home and watched fireworks from beautiful, scenic (and really toothless) Burtonsville, Maryland...

Anonymous Jere said...

Wow! What great memories. I cannot decide which tradition I prefer.

The Knoxville event was nice this year. Although, I don't care for the overly bright and overly loud finale for the fireworks. You can't see the colors of the fireworks. I think they have taken it too far. The symphony was great, even though I don't care for that song, "I Bought Me A Cat". Katie Wolf-Zahn was really good, and I was wishing that she sang the National Anthem.

Blogger Frank Strovel III said...

Forgive me if you already know this... but Pyro Shows has displayed the fireworks for Washington DC's 4th of July celebration for many years. I assume this year was no different.

Anonymous Pam Mc said...

We went on vacation to beautiful Virginia Beach to visit family. We got to go up in a lighthouse and I LOVED IT! Had a blast on the beach and all that. Got caught in a small sandstorm but it was an experience! Glad to be home tho.

Anonymous Lance Harwell said...

I enjoyed shooting the illegal, amateur fireworks from my apartment in Fort Sanders. I alway try to raise as much hell as possible in this neighborhood, because I will be hearing fireworks go off for the next 2 months.


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