The 4th of July is to many many people like myself, a perfect excuse to blow shit up. Fire. Booms. Hell fucking YEah.
So what do towns like Madison, Wisconsin do? Control that urge by blowing shit up for them. With exploding rockets and fire falling from the skies, with a live orchestra playing well known classical pieces, with beer. All of which reminds us of why America is great.
You can tell the tell of the article by the quality of the title graphic I'm pretty sure.
Anyway, with the rest of the house at Chicago, Houston, and New York, dorm-friend Quenton calls me with the prospect of biking to Warner Park 7 miles away, to see the fireworks up close and to inhale the sweet sulfur air.
I agree, wholeheartedly.
To appease the voyeurs, here is the state of house when I left, on Friday July 2, 7pm:
And we begin.
I meet up with Quenton, and his accomplice Eveie, and we pedal like maniacs to her brother Breezy.
So we arrive and wait. And wait. And wait for Breezy.
He arrives, of course, and we resume our course.
Surrounding the main campus are entire neighborhoods of student-dwelled housings, which eventually start to mix with “real people” housing..
...usually liberal in taste and decor.
Eventually you are totally surrounded by these “real people,” where you begin to feel queasy and claustrophobic.
One of the beautiful things about riding bikes is that you are immune to all laws.
On a bike, one can follow the pedestrian laws if it is convenient, or road vehicle laws if it suits your fancy. Combine this with timid midwestern drivers, and that means you can pretty much act like a total asshole the entire time.
Assholes indeed. I'd say two dozen cars passed us on our left.
As we approached Warner Park, the sidewalks became more congested with festive looking people, all eager to see things get blowed up in the sky.
At some point there was a small child selling watered-down Country Time on a stand by an intersection.
No we didn't buy any.
These clever people dressed in red dresses were charging cars, yelling something that noone could understand.
We arrive at the park, only to feel this strange sense among us all, which we later classify as sobriety.
The fireworks aren't starting for over an hour, so we take a trek to the nearby shopping center.
Along the way we passed the Subway warehouse, full to the brim with parents ordering lists of subs for their whining kids and deadbeat relatives.
Continuing on, we find the next shoppe to be more tailored to take on our current needs.
We continue back to the crowded festivities.
Along the way we pass by a father and daughter picnicking on their own grassy island just outside of the parking lot.
And so we head back to Warner Park, home of the Mallards. Also home to the greatest sports deal in the history of the world: $20 to watch the game with all you can eat bbq, all you can drink beer.
Apparently there was a game going on, with the score at 12-1 Mallards.
Like anyone cares about the score with 13 beers on tap.
Apparently there was also a carnival, complete with Ferris Wheel, fried dough stands and carnies.
The fried dough (called funnel cakes by the ignorants) looked expecially delicious. The line was bursting with people however. I counted around 80 people. In a fruitless attempt to pay someone to get us some sweet dough, we found that there was just one girl in the stand, all alone with a funnel. Some woman at the front of the line claimed she had been waiting for an hour and twenty minutes and shooed us away.
We almost settled for some candy apples but we decided instead to weasel our way to getting a decent seat for the fireworks.
The seating arrangement seemed to be an polite free for all, where anyone could sit where they damn well pleased, as long as they weren't disturbing anyone or obstructing their view.
We passed through the bulk of the crowd and ended up at this gigantic tarp where a family of 12 or so were seated. The woman with the white hat told us that she had gotten there at 6am to set it up. We acted all impressed, turned up the charm a notch or two, and sure enough she invited us to sit and watch the fireworks.
The only restriction was that we had to abide to 'family-friendly' activities.
Whatever that meant.
Soon after we had gotten there we had to stand for the national anthem.
The anthem actually went on for all the verses, which took a full 5-6 minutes. Towards the end people were kind of unsure about what to do; some were chatting and giggling at the absurdity of standing for so long. Some used the opportunity to try and find some last minute seatings, checking if anyone had accidentally not used a few square feet.
Me? I took pictures.
Then the airplanes flew over.
I wish I had taken a picture when they were closer, but it was just so loud I got a-scared, so you all will have to deal.
Family friendly, with extra class.
It was still a looong time before the sky went dark enough for the fireworks so at some point I went back to see if the lines at the fried dough stand were shorter. No luck.
Navigating my way back was one of the more stranger experiences. The demograph was almost totally consisting of young parents and their youngins, all screaming, fighting, eating, or crying. There was literally no space left either. Any patch of land wider than 2 yards was covered by them.
And it was dark.
So eventually the booms started, and classical music began playing loudly throughout the park with huge explosions overhead.
A total of 25 minutes of almost continuous fireworks, and a couple of empty 40s make for some good living.
I took a couple pictures, but as everyone knows still images of fireworks is teh suck, so here are the pictures of our escape:
Everyone knows the quickest way to leave a crowd is by running with the crowd, which is always in the way. It was a gigantic mad rush I tell you.
A couple families had the idea to wait out the crowd with cigs beer and batman. We sprinted by these fools and trampled on their blankets.
Not really. We did gawk at them though.
The railing outside of the park was literally a gigantic jumble of mostly 80s-era road bikes, locked together in a twisted lump of steel and aluminum.
We somehow find ours and unlock it from the mess, and immediately begin pedaling.
It is impossible to really describe the anything-goes winner-take-all feeling while leaving the park. Anything really did go, especially if you were riding a bike.
Quenton held on to this convertible for about 100 yards, then abandoned it to cut off the rest of the stationary traffic and pedestrians that were flooding into the street.
Madness I tell you.
Before my camera battery died, I did manage to capture these crazy guys on their crazy bikes. The kid in the blue was playing the guitar, while the guy on the tall bike made funny grins.
And I thought it was impressive that I was taking such nice pictures while biking.
I just now noticed the big red flower on the right-guy's bike. And the basket.
Those clever guys.