It was the most unusual Fourth of July fireworks display ever.
This past week our country celebrated its Independence Day. My daughter and son-in-law joined my husband, our corgi and me in a small mountain town in North Carolina for the holiday.
The day began like many other Independence Days. We watched the local hometown parade of decorated cars, trucks and bicycles. There was even a tractor. Since we are in the North Carolina highlands, bagpipes provided the music. After the short parade (you could see the starting point from the end), we went home and prepared a traditional Fourth of July cookout. We grilled hot dogs, hamburgers and accompanied them with baked beans, potato salad and corn on the cob. We enjoyed our feast out on the deck surrounded by a forest of green trees with mountains in the distance. Perfect.
Later that evening, we decided to go to the nearby ski mountain to watch the fireworks. You could watch them from the base lodge or for a few dollars, ride the brand-new seven million dollar chair lift to the summit. Watching a fireworks display from 5,300 feet seemed like a grand idea.
The Fourth of July and Fireworks go together
I have seen some amazing fireworks in my life. I’ve seen fireworks at the beach and fireworks from across the lake behind our church. One year, we had a panorama of many fireworks displays from a house on the Manatee River. I probably spent at least one Fourth of July at Walt Disney World — they always have fantastic fireworks. One of my very early childhood memories is watching the fireworks from the window on the landing of my grandparent’s stairs. The most spectacular fireworks I have ever witnessed were in Boston for the bicentennial in 1976. I will never forget that Fourth of July. What an amazing experience!
The Fourth of July Fireworks of 2017 will also stay in my memory, but, for a different reason.
After dinner, our party of four drove a few miles to the ski mountain. We paid for our tickets and hopped on the new, deluxe chair lift. It was a peaceful ride to the summit with spectacular views even though it was a bit overcast. When we got off at the top, there were several groups of people sitting around, waiting for the fireworks to begin. We took a few pictures and set up our chairs.
As we were waiting, dark clouds blew over and it began to sprinkle. Then, it began to rain. Hard. We were 5,300 feet up on top of a mountain trying to take cover from a pouring rain. (Did I mention, no one thought to grab an umbrella?) People started taking the chairlift back down the mountain, but we stuck it out. Our patience was rewarded when, a few minutes later, the fireworks began. There was only one problem — they were below us. We had to walk down the mountain (through mud) from our vantage point to see more than the colorful glow of the fireworks exploding. At that point, we decided to get on the chairlift and go back down the mountain ourselves.
So, on the Fourth of July, 2017, we watched fireworks from above, on a chairlift, in the cold, pouring rain. We laughed the whole way down the mountain at the absurdity of our situation.
I’m sure this will become one of those family stories that gets told again and again. I can imagine some Fourth of July in the future, when my not yet born grandchildren visit us in the mountains. I will say to them “did I ever tell you about the time your mom, dad, granddad and I watched the fireworks from that chairlift up there?”