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The Fireworks of My Youth

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We always parked in the mall parking lot on the Fourth of July. I never fought for a square of grass or spread out a tarp midday to save a spot to watch the fireworks. I didn’t know others did this until I was in my twenties.

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The parade seems to be an important tradition where we live now. It’s become a tradition for us, but I don’t remember any from when I was little.

My hometown lights them off by the river. I thought it was done at the mall. We’d get into my dad’s van and drive over to the mall, the lot sprinkled with cars. It was kind of like going to a drive-in theater.

I’d flop around in the backseat, unable to sit completely still like most young children struggle to do. It was past my bedtime, excitement filled the air.

The radio played quietly while we waited. Windows rolled down to let in the sticky breeze as my dad blew puffs of cigarette smoke out the driver’s side.

Shortly after 9pm it would be dark enough and the bursts of color lit up the sky. I’d try to guess what we’d see based on the booms, crackles and shrieks the fireworks gave of as they raced into the blackness.

I’d complain about the noise without taking my eyes off the light show high above the roof of the mall. Once it was over, we drove home. I could still hear the pops in my head.

Attending the fireworks was much simpler back then. No crowds, decent view, and fairly comfortable seats. Maybe that’s why we haven’t taken the kids yet. It’s not the same scene where we live now. I don’t want to scout out the perfect spot hours in advance and then hold it until after the grand finale.

Once as a teenager I experienced 4th of July along the river bank. It was a completely different experience….

How has going to see fireworks changed since you were a kid?

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