By Pamela Brownstein
The Fourth of July is a special holiday for Americans, as most families gather together and have their own traditions about how they celebrate the freedom of our nation.
Although the traditions in my family have evolved over the years as we’ve all gotten older, the main focus is still on the fireworks.
When I was little, I remember holding my ears and shrieking once I heard the first boom in the sky. But after catching a glimpse of the exploding color and shapes, I couldn’t take my eyes off the magical display that lit up the night.
I have been fortunate to have seen countless amazing fireworks, and memories of these shows makes July Fourth one of my favorite holidays.
The town where I grew up, Montville, N.J., always put on fabulous fireworks. Everyone would meet at the high school and set up blankets in the surrounding fields. When we were younger we would beg our parents to buy us glow-in-the-dark necklaces; when we were teenagers, we would ditch our parents and go meet up with our friends. Once darkness fell, the lights and music would start on the football field, then the colors would shoot into the air — pretty circles, whizzing rockets, giant BOOMS would elicit “ooo” and “ahhs” from the enraptured crowd.
One year, my parents took us to the Statue of Liberty to see the awesome fireworks light up the New York harbor.
Another year, on a trip cross-country, I found myself in Telluride, Colorado, for July Fourth, where the dry conditions prevented fireworks. Instead, I saw General Norman Schwartzkopf lead the parade through town, and later in the day I saw a double rainbow clear across the mountains.
Most recently, our family has established our Independence Day tradition on Hilton Head Island, where we’ve been going on vacation since the ’80s. The fireworks in Harbour Town, on the south end of the island, are an easy walk from my parents’ condo, so we bring our chairs and blankets and set up on the 18th green of the Harbour Town Golf Course. The fireworks come from a barge in the water and explode beautifully over Calibogue Sound, the lighthouse and the boats in the harbor. It’s lovely and inspiring, and always seems to end too fast.
With my own growing family, I am excited about building our own traditions, and passing on the fascination of the fireworks to my kids.