Fireworks and Parades

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.

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8 thoughts on “Fireworks and Parades

  1. Brian says:

    Sounds great! Small town 4th celebration are really fun! Reminds me of the parade in Douglas! Thea cried when we first moved here and they didn’t throw candy in the parade…It was also 104 degrees out, so perfect storm for tears from pretty mellow kid. It also shows the impact of the small town 4th parade!
    The whole California civil war thing is really weird. We publish a really great Cali history magazine here that recently detailed California involvement in the Civil war. Money was diverted, people left to go fight and the Union hustled to stop riots in LA and SF, but little else happened….maybe since we missed it, people miss it and recreate it. I just worry about civil war fun mixed with the delightful racism that found up in these hills…WTF do confederate flags have to do with California? Inhabited first by CA Indians..then Californios…Went Union fast….oh yeah, I am talking about ignorance, why let racism be stopped by anything like history or sense…rant rant rant…

    • What’s interesting is that Loyalton (where the parade was held) is named Loyalton because of the loyalty to the Union…Oh! On the subject of old, weird, country-awesome shit- I was reading that there is a debate about where the Clampers began and Downieville (about 30 miles from us) is one of the places where it was rumored to have started. Pretty awesome, the Clampers. And Downieville is a cool place too- lot’s of mining history, etc…Hey- call me about this weekend too 😉

  2. Heather Weiermann says:

    Love your blog. Thank you so much for sharing. I long for the small town life while also enjoying the city life in San Diego (not quite OC). Your blog lets me live vicariously through you. I especially enjoy your comparisons like in this post 😉

    • Thank you Heather! Thank you for reading my babble! I always feel bad comparing, as there are many wonderful things about Southern California (I grew up in San Diego) because I don’t want to 1. paint a overwhelmingly negative picture of SoCal and 2. paint and overwhelmingly rosy picture of country life. We lived in San Clemente for many years and it felt like a small town (maybe not as small as where we are now!), I will always love it there. Thanks again for commenting and making me feel like I’m not just talking to myself 😉

  3. Karen says:

    Your parade looks so much like ours in our small lakeside town in Maine. I’ll take firetrucks and tractors over the glitz that I saw when we lived in Miami. I’m glad you had a good time…thanks for sharing your photos.

  4. Elise says:

    Loved this! I have spent most of my Independence Day holidays since moving to CA in one of the two small towns I grew up in (WA and UT) rather than Orange County for exactly these reasons. I am very much enjoying blog-stalking you Jenna! 🙂

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