It’s Westport’s best party of the year — by far.
Thousands of men, women and children — especially children — descend on Compo like Patton’s army: well-organized, disciplined, fully in control.
They trudge off several hours later like Lee’s troops after Appomattox — carrying what they can, leaving the rest behind.
In between is a festival, a happening, an all-American event — with, of course, a Westport touch. Flags and bunting fly from multimillion-dollar homes. Sushi and champagne share picnic tables with hot dogs and soda.
For more than a month, Westport had been trapped in an endless “Annie” loop. The sun would always come out tomorrow. Yesterday, the sun really did come out — mostly. It was a fine day — until 6:15, when a drenching rain blew in from nowhere. The sun never stopped shining — it was an almost cartoonish cloudburst — but thousands of folks covered their sushi and hot dogs, then ran for shelter.
It was all over in 5 minutes, followed by the obligatory rainbow. Five minutes later, everyone was dry.
Back in the day, the fireworks were simply that: 20 minutes of noise and color. Over the years it’s morphed into a show. There’s entertainment galore — including, this year, a group of teenagers singing show tunes. They performed by the cannons, which is where long ago the fireworks were fired from. That must have been before someone realized fireworks can be lethal, and moved them onto a barge.
The barge now bobs scenically offshore, surrounded by 5 or 6 squintillion boats. It’s a lovely scene, joined this year by a lighted sign saying “Lydian.” They’re the official fireworks sponsor, perhaps the least demanding sponsor in corporate history. All they ask is 1 little sign. All of Westport should say “thanks” to Lydian Asset Management. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt if we handed all our investments to them either.
I’m not sure whether Lydian, Westport PAL or town officials were in charge of providing the spectacular near-full moon backdrop for the fireworks. Some of the pyrotechnics seemed to actually frame the moon, or explode from within it. Whoever took care of that — it was a great touch.
Then it was over, and the great migration began. Thanks to that nearly full moon, it was clear to see the beach was a pig sty. Polite people hauled their trash to the overflowing barrels. The rest left blankets, umbrellas, tables, chairs and mountains of food right where they were.
But an amazing thing happens each year. Parks and Rec immediately deploys an army of workers. Patton-like, they get the job done. And if you go down to Compo this morning, it will look like nothing at all happened last night. The sand will be swept; the cans emptied.
And Westport can start partying all over again.
Happy 4th of July!