4th of July was a pretty mellow day for us.
We attended an early 4th of July celebration in a Portola last Saturday…lake swimming at the Mill Pond, beer, BBQ, country karaoke, civil war reenactment (what a peculiar and interesting sight it was to see civil war soldiers mingling amongst the 4th of July revelers) and fireworks.
When we lived in the ‘burbs of Orange County we attended a 4th of July celebration in Ladera Ranch, where we lived for a year. While it was fun, it was completely over the top. They had a enormous, corporate-sponsored stage (large enough to hold a bloody Rolling Stones concert), 3 or 4 live bands, a professional MC and the fireworks display…whoa nelly…it was HUGE and intricately choreographed. All bells and whistles included. It rivaled Disneyland’s nightly fireworks. While impressive, I much preferred Portola’s Mill Pond fireworks experience-on a lake surrounded by trees, hearing music from a modest PA that played a scratchy John Sousa Phillips march and John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” with belly full of beer and BBQ.
It’s hard to describe the difference…but it seems to lie in intention. The Ladera Ranch 4th was all about putting on a impressive show. Like driving a fancy car to impress strangers (a rampant hobby in Ladera). It was a “keeping up with the Joneses” type experience. Up here, there’s no aim to impress, only an aim to have a damn good time.
Alright, enough of my petty comparisons…
On the morning of the 4th, I took the kids to a parade in another nearby town called Loyalton. It was idyllic- a genuine, small, hometown parade. It lasted all but 10 minutes and everyone knew everyone in the parade and attending the parade. Our neighbors drove their logging truck and the kids looked like they saw movie stars- (“WE KNOW THEM!!!!”) The parade participants passed out American flags (one bearing “Made In China” which was met with great disdain by the rancher next to me and I internally noted the irony) and threw candy from the firetrucks, tractors, old cars and wagons. The kids dashed about picking up the loot. (“We never got candy at a parade before Mom! AWESOME!!!”) As a bonus, since the parade route was short, the parade circled back through and we got to hoot and holler all over again. It was pretty awesome.
Just like so many things around here, this 4th of July parade was genuine and heart-felt.