Happy 3rd of July!
As Westport readies our own unique celebration — we shoot off fireworks any time between the 1st and the 6th, but never the 4th — here are a few thoughts, tips and reminders for tonight:
- Plan ahead! Want a coveted South Beach picnic table? Get there early. A rule of thumb is a couple of hours earlier than whatever you think is reasonable. Be a good do-be, and designate (or hire) an actual human being to hold the fort. “Reserving tables” with ghost tablecloths, balloons and flower vases is not cool.
- Be ready to move. In mid-afternoon, a well-choreographed vehicular ballet takes place. All cars must vacate the beach at 4 p.m.; only folks holding fireworks tickets can drive back in at 5. Some people try nefarious tricks to avoid paying the $30 per car fee. That’s just wrong. Fireworks cost money — these don’t come from some roadside stand in South Carolina — and all proceeds benefit the Westport PAL. NOTE: Tickets must be purchased in advance, at the Longshore Parks and Rec office during business hours, and at police headquarters any time.
- Enjoy the show. And by “show” I mean entertainment and people-watching. There is usually a marching band, and an imported fife-and-drum corps. This year’s added attraction: For the Heart, a group of show tune-singing teenagers, performs at the cannons at 6:45 p.m. Wherever you plant yourself, take time to meander along the beach, seeing and being seen. The street scene on Soundview Drive is particularly lively. This is Westport “community” at its best.
- Let your children go. Unless your kids are 2, don’t worry if they wander off with friends. Independence Day is all about freedom. There’s nothing better for a Westport child than to roam the beach with buddies, surrounded by (but blissfully apart from) other happy people of all ages. And in today’s cellphone and GPS-enabled age, it’s not like anyone can get lost. NOTE TO TEENAGERS: When the fireworks start, sit down and watch. Making cell calls — and texting — is not an appropriate way to honor our country.
- Forget the weather. Face it: Summer will arrive in June of 2010. Pack an extra layer; throw some rain gear in with the watermelon and Pampers, and chill (ho ho). A couple of years ago clouds rolled in at exactly 9:15, and the fireworks were less than fiery. Most people took it in stride; a few boneheads demanded their money back. After what we’ve been through the last year, a bit of rain on our 3rd of July parade is the least of our worries.
- Stick around when it’s over. Yeah, leaving the beach makes I-95 look like the Indy 500. But it lasts for only an hour. Don’t race to your car as the last firework explodes. Stay where you are; relax; enjoy the evening. Your kids don’t need to get to bed (tomorrow’s the real 4th), and you don’t need to stress out in the parking lot. If you’re not driving: Open that extra bottle of wine!
Happy birthday, America. At 233, you’re better than ever!