Chicago likes to have its July 4 festivities on the evening of July 3. I suspect that this is so we do not have to compete with nearby cities in Indiana, where the more outrageous fireworks are curiously legal and thus draw (and also put out) many a curious eye. Either that or Chicago just wants to party the night before so it can get drunk and not have to worry about work the next day. Either way, it is clear that Chicago is one burg that knows what’s what.
I decided to reprise my July 3 evening activity from last year, since I enjoyed myself immensely, so I pulled on my shoes and socks and pants and strolled a couple blocks over to Lake Michigan, where I stood on the beach and watched the fireworks down in the city.
However, this year was different. First of all, the beach was far more crowded. I chalked it up to the thousands of people who read my write-up of the experience last year and wanted to try it for themselves. And they’d tell two friends, and they’d tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on. Also notable was the presence of little children who were organizing chants the entire time. They went through several rounds each of “USA! USA! USA!” and “God Bless America! God Bless America! God Bless America!” The most interesting one was “Peace on Earth! Peace on Earth! Peace on Earth!” which isn’t really what Independence Day is all about, and to hear it chanted by a bunch of ten-year-old boys who were probably just going to go home and play Grand Theft Auto 3 was mildly ironic, but in general the ignorance of the prepubescent set is not without its charm, and this was no exception.
The fireworks themselves were unremarkable, hindered by a cloudy sky, and by the fact that they seemed to be lower to the ground than usual. From my vantage point, the fireworks were going off behind two very tall buildings off in the distance, which produced a visual image that was not dissimilar from, say, two towers exploding in a ball of flame.
Eventually, that show ended and another one started several miles up to the north, slightly closer, more audible and unobscured by buildings, but also unremarkable. I slowly came to the realization that I was bored to tears and wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of there and go home and play with my new graphics tablet. For some reason, however, I felt bad about feeling this way, and so I decided to walk up the beach until the fireworks stopped.
Forty minutes later, the fireworks were still popping, and I had walked a few miles on sand in the darkness. “The hell with this,” I said, as the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air continued glaring and bursting, respectively. “Good night, America.”