By Patricia Baer
One of the things I miss about my old apartment downtown was the view of the firework display I had from my living room windows. If I was attentive, I could catch shows from three different towns on a Fourth of July evening. The explosions of color bursting over the downtown rooftops were a spectacular spectacle I could enjoy from the comfort of my sofa.
Independence Day fireworks were always a highlight on my summer vacations as a kid. The year my family visited Mount Rushmore happened to be over the holiday weekend. I remember feeling genuinely disappointed we were not going to witness a traditional display rocketing over those four giant heads. Although I understood that we were surrounded by forest and that the fire risk was too high for such an activity, I still felt a little cheated after enduring the multistate car ride with the hopes of the most awesome pyrotechnics I could imagine waiting for me at the end of the journey.
One of my favorite Fourth of July memories did not occur as a child, though. It was during one of the last summers that I lived in D.C. My friends and I camped out on the lawn near the Washington Monument and watched starbursts of red, white, and blue fill the night sky as music accompanied the explosions in perfect timing. This was the first time I had experienced a choreographed display, and it was truly an awe-inspiring moment of theatricality and patriotic pageantry.
Last summer was the first time in years that I actually attended a fireworks display. My seat was prime and up close to the action, maybe a bit too close since tilting my head back to follow the illuminated trails streaming skyward was necessary more often than it was not. The dying, falling sparks after each burst gave me a little pause because they appeared to be glowing a tad too long, and I could not help myself from scouting out a spot in the crowd to stop, drop, and roll just in case one landed on me, but overall it was fantastic viewing and well worth a little momentary, irrational anxiety.
I am not sure where I will make my annual viewing this year. I do not think my home has a decent vantage point. I may dare to head to the fairgrounds again, or I may choose to avoid the mosquitoes and simply chill with a televised event. Either way, I am sure I will enjoy the magical experience this aerial art form creates with its painting of the dark night sky from a fantastic palette of glowing colors.