I never watched fireworks with a million people before. It sounded as awful as spending a day on the Small Small World ride at Disney or worse. To make matters more awkward, I had a neighbor from my blog world visiting Chicago, along with her husband and I couldn’t imagine how this could work out comfortably. Sometimes, I have no imagination at all.
Rich drove the car down to his underground private parking space at his office building early in the day and came back in a cab. I made a roast chicken and deviled eggs and gazpacho and we packed up wine and red,white & blue frosted cupcakes from Swirlz. Jen Creer (of Jenorama) and her oh-so-charming and relaxed husband taxied from their hotel and picked us up, loaded down with food and drink. Once in the cab I called some friends I garden with at Oz Park who were already down at Grant Park, with blankets and picnic staked out in front of the band shell. We paid the cabbie, walked a little ways and settled down, along with A MILLION other people to wine and dine, listen to a great symphony orchestra and watch incredible fireworks. Really? I’ve never seen anything like them.
You tell me: how do they play America the Beautiful on stage and when it comes to "purple mountains majesty" light up the sky over Lake Michigan with brilliant violet explosions? How do they play the theme from Star Wars and the sky is filled with ringed planets simultaneously? I suspect computers have something to do with it, but heaven only knows how. It was simply amazing.
When it was over we walked to Rich’s office, used the nice clean bathrooms (as opposed to 500 portajohns lined up in a row) and had a cold beer while we waited for the garage to clear out and then we made a quick dash for it before a wonderful summer thunderstorm swept through Chicago.
Jen is so much better in the flesh, and she’s plenty fine in all her blog incarnations and her husband Derek is great, too. The thing about them, aside from Jen’s smart and encouraging editorial inspiration to write, is that they are easy. Easy to be with, comfortable, relaxed. They blended in so nicely with my newish friends from the park advisory board that it was all just- easy. It was a lovely and interesting blanket of people, all around.
Suffice it to say that, other than a brief two minutes crossing Columbus Ave. against the crowd when claustrophobia took on new meaning, we had an absolutely splendid 4th of July celebration. I hope yours is equally fine and somewhere along the line you’re called to remember the words to the Star Spangled Banner. The right time, the right place- it’s an okay song. Speaking of music, here is the program from tonight’s celebration in the park. There must have been a typo in it because I could swear they played "Be Kind to your Web Footed Friends" towards the end. Oh, well. Christopher Bell conducted the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra.
KEY – Star Spangled Banner
WILLIAMS – Liberty Fanfare
COPLAND – Variations on a Shaker Melody from Appalachian Spring
GOTTSCHALK/Kay – Three Selections from Cakewalk, Grand Walkaround, Wallflower Waltz, Gala Cakewalk
DVORAK – Largo from Symphony No. 9 in E minor, From the New World
SCHUMAN – Chester from New England Triptych
BERNSTEIN – Overture to Candide
ANDERSON – The Syncopated Clock, Trumpeter’s Lullaby, Serenata
COHAN/Arr. Cacavas – Star Spangled Spectacular, Introduction, Mary’s a
Grand Old Name, Give My Regards to Broadway, Forty-five Minutes from
Broadway, Yankee Doodle Dandy, You’re a Grand Old Flag
TCHAIKOVSKY – Overture 1812
GOULD – American Salute
DRAGON – America the Beautiful
BAGLEY – National Emblem March
WILLIAMS – Theme from "Star Wars"
SOUSA – Washington Post March
SOUSA – Stars and Stripes Forever
The photos are a) my cell phone because who wants to carry 10# of good camera into a crowd of a million people and b) the Chicago Tribune photo added this morning. If you look closely, you can see the Ferris Wheel, the million people, the barges for the fireworks and all those little lights on the water are boats. Not like the old days when we wandered over to the tiny municipal airport in Ann Arbor with babies and lawn chairs…