Sunday, July 4, 2010

The small town Fourth of July award goes to .......?

I'm, sorry, but I have no photos for today's blog. After all, the "winner" of this week's "exciting" city is not my usual new adopted home, but rather one I thought had no chance of doing well, one which LOOKS so boring as to be impossible to arrange a truly exciting and unique day for its population. I've grown so used to Port Gamble providing me with something to write about, something new and different, that I was totally taken by surprise when I found that it takes a much larger city to pull off a truly fun and wholesome celebration. I'm specifically asking myself, "Is Port Gamble a large enough town to have a July 4th celebration and do it right?" Strike me with lightening for saying it, but it appears to me it is not.

Here's what happened today. Kris and I late this morning (the fourth) went driving around, seeing what the various municipalities of the area do for July 4th. We were hoping to get a comparison between Port Angeles and Port Gamble, but any other comparison might also work, since we assumed we knew which city would come out on top.

First we went to Poulsbo, which HAD its fireworks display on July 3rd, and we found no other activities on their schedule. It's a town about the size of Port Angeles, and thus getting a large percentage of the population organized to come out and be together is difficult. Towns like that can put something on FOR its population, but rarely WITH its population. Its people have too many things they would like to be doing to settle on one good time.

Other towns in Kitsap County had the same problem. If a town can be too big to organize its people, one would have to include Bremerton and Silverdale as well. But we had breakfast in one small town (Kingston) and had watched the citizenry prepare for their fourth of July parade, watched a carnival setting up and taking place, watched the kids riding on ponys, watched the local insurance man set up a cover for his clients in case of rain, and watched the local polititions pack their pockets full of brochures and candy. I had the feeling that if someone lived in Kingston, they were either in the parade or watching it. There was no other choice.

We headed back to Port Gamble, where the town was ... what else can I call it ... deserted. I'd never seen it so dead. The people were gone, perhaps to other events, but gone. There were no illegal firecrackers going off, no kids with burns on their hands going to the hospital, in fact no kids at all.

Thinking back, we could remember seeing lots of people at Kingston, but no where else had we seen crowds. So off we went again, this time to see what the post-parade crowd was doing there. By this time it was 8:30 pm or so, and driving all the way to the city's waterfront we finally saw a surprising spectacle. The downtown, with its face looking at the waterfront, was filled with people, apparently waiting for the official fireworks display. Now this area is huge, able at other times in the week to hold, it would seem, the entire car population of the area ... HUGE parking lots, all running together, all giving the population an enjoyable place to visit people they hadn't seen for most of the year.

It was like something that only Norman Rockwell could show. Everyone excited, everyone stopping and talking to friends they had know for years, many with SUV'S with the hatch open and either a sleeping child, a cooler full of hamburgers ready to be cooked, or a couple of dogs inside. THIS was small town fourth of July. THIS was clearly fun, and THIS might not necessarily be the best fireworks the town had ever had, but would at lease be memorable.

We left, hoping to catch the display in Port Gamble, and even when leaving we saw countless people still heading (walking) toward the waterfront. But we should have stayed. We saw one other couple in Port Gamble that night while we watched the home displays some people across the bay had put on. We weren't disappointed, but we certainly could have seen better elsewhere, especially if that elsewhere had been Kingston.

Is Port Gamble now our No. 2 most favorite place to be? Certainly not, but I can tell you that if I want to see an exciting fireworks display, or families being close like they were fifty years ago, or a parade filled with local politicians making impossible promises, then I'll be at Kingston next year on the fourth of July. It truly was exactly what you would like your children to be doing on the fourth, whether they are ten or eighty. We heard their fireworks display from at least eight miles away, the "thump..... thump" of the rockets exploding reminding me of the "thump ... thump" of the rockets that won us our first fourth of July. And the smiles on the faces of the kids that day had reminded me that it had all been worthwhile, no matter which of the wars we had fought. After all, that's the purpose of Fourth of July celebrations isn't it?

1 comment:

Tracy Zhu said...

Nice post. I live in Kingston and have always been impressed by the 4th of July events. There always seems to be a huge turnout for such a small town. The town also does a great job with the summer Concerts at the Cove at the marina.