The Opposite of Christmas

It’s July 5th.  We (logically) just had Independence Day yesterday, and what struck me is how bi-polar-ly different it was from Christmas.  I’ve blogged before about just how un-festive Christmas was down here.  Well, ho-lee shee-yit is it festive in Florida on the Fourth of July.

First of all, tents sprout in parking lots about one per half-mile, and they all sell fireworks.  And they all sell the BIG fireworks.  It’s all legal here, from the small put-your-eye-outs to the medium you’ll-lose-a-fingers to the massive I’m-bleeding-internally deals.  We got some…everybody gets some.  Personally, I think big explosions and fire are cool…I’d waste a whole paycheck in one of those tents if I could.

Next…yesterday morning we went to a July 4th parade.  It billed itself as the largest July 4th parade in Florida — wait…they were PROUD of the parade?  Yes they were!  And it was festive!  Folks lined the road, decked out in flag shirts, Uncle Sam hats, sparkly red-white-and-blue antenna headbands and just plain ol’ flags.  The parade took almost two hours to troll by, with patriotic music, and red/white/blue flags and bunting streaming from every corner of everything.  There were soldiers, and Marines, and helicopters and jeeps and vets and scouts and bands and…I’m out of breath.  There was candy flying every which way, and Mardi-Gras beads flying every other way — my kids looked like Mr. T. with all the shiny necklaces.  People clapped for the vets, and parade-walkers were slapping high-fives, and yelling “AMERICAN KID” *slap* “AMERICAN MOM” *slap* “AMERICAN DAD” (that was me, btw) *slap* and so on.

I’ve never seen Floridians so excited about anything before.  Wow.

Then at home, we lit off our little array of smoke bombs and snappers and snakes.  So did the neighbors.  And the other neighbors.

We had our choice of evening events to attend:  The family-friendly festival 12 miles away, with fireworks; The city fireworks over the mall; The BIG Tampa fireworks over downtown; or the smaller fireworks in our community — we attended the last one, and they were short-lived but well done.  BUT, the folks in the houses around our little community center rivaled the “big” fireworks, and were as much fun to watch.  We drove home in fog-that-was-really-fireworks-smoke.

So, I walk the dog after dark so nobody will see her poop and I won’t have to scoop it.  I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth.  Our neighborhood sounded like a battle zone — explosions from every direction.  Some small pops, some deep harrumphs…all nonstop.  I watched fireworks on the way out from the house, and on the way back.  EVERYONE seemed to be lighting off industrial-sized fireworks.

So in our little cul-de-sac, folks from neighboring houses who I haven’t even met before came out and were friendly, with bags of fireworks and bottles of beer, and glow-stick necklaces, and we lit off our own little show.  Folks whistled and clapped at the fireworks, and when we were done we swept off the road and retired.

I’ve never seen people here so animated, friendly or festive.  What the hell?

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