The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. I love the sights, sounds, and spirit of the celebration of our country's Declaration of Independence. My earliest recollections of celebrating the 4th are from family vacations at a wonderful resort called Marin Town & Country Club. For a kid from San Francisco, the warm and lush surroundings of Fairfax seemed like Shangri-La.
My family, including all my aunts, uncles, and eighteen cousins, spent two weeks each summer at this enchanting retreat. And every vacation always occurred during the first two weeks of July. What a treat to celebrate our country's independence with those you love in an environment close to nature.
On the 4th, after the kids ate an early barbecue dinner, we piled into the back of my dad's wood paneled station wagon and went into town for ice cream. (Those were the days before seatbelt laws.) At sunset, we returned for what I thought was the most spectacular fireworks show there ever was. Mind you, as an eight-year-old, a couple of bottle rockets and Kate Smith’s recording of “God Bless America” were pretty spectacular. In those days, we even got to set off our own firecrackers and run around with lighted sparklers. Thankfully, no one ever got hurt.
When our kids were young, we'd celebrate the Fourth of July on my sister's block with our own little Fourth of July parade. We decorated tricycles, bikes, and wagons with flags and streamers and had a jolly good time watching the kid’s parade around the neighborhood.
Now that the kids are grown, we celebrate the Fourth of July with friends and neighbors in Downtown Pleasant Hill. Like many of you, we go to our hometown parade. I still love the marching bands and all the kids parading by, but I do miss the Marching Barbecue Dads. They certainly added a “special flavor” to this marvelous day.
After the parade, I follow the crowd to Pleasant Hill Park for fun, food, and games. The games, the music, the food, and all the other activities make this event a delightful celebration for people of all ages. Dawn and I sponsor a petting zoo at the park and get a real kick out of seeing the delight on the faces of young children playing with the baby animals.
I always struggle deciding what to eat, however, if there's a pizza-eating or pie-eating contest, I'm always eager to participate. Later, we watch the city’s great fireworks display. Each year, the Fourth of July Commission somehow manages to put on a bigger and better celebration.
As we enjoy the various Fourth of July activities, I'm reminded of two things. First, what a great country we live in. I'm thankful that our Founding Fathers had the wisdom and courage to make the bold move to take thirteen separate colonies and form one great nation. As I said before about our Founding Fathers and our veterans, we are “the land of the free because we are the home of the brave.”
Secondly, I'm reminded of what a great hometown Pleasant Hill is. So many people give tirelessly of their time and effort, not just on the Fourth of July, but also on so many other occasions, to make Pleasant Hill a fun place to live and raise a family.
Happy Fourth of July everyone!