Even though I moved away fifteen years ago, I still try to make it "home" every year for July 4th. If you grew up in a town that didn't have a special celebration you probably wouldn't understand. But everyone from Saugerties, New York (one of the top ten "coolest small towns in America" knows that nobody does "the fourth" like Saugerties.
If you think of your typical small-town America patriotic holiday, what do you think of? Parades and cookouts and fireworks. Saugerties has the biggest and best parade around (especially if you have a particular fondness for firetrucks). There are trucks and tractors and horses and bagpipes, and of course, the kids especially love the floats where the people are tossing out candy! Along the parade route there is a house that has pretty much become "party central" for the parade. The biggest crowd gathers there, there is loud music, freely-flowing drinks and they even have a P.A. system (which they mostly use to heckle the parade marchers). They play the Star Spangled Banner when they see the start of the parade heading their way, and in the lulls between floats, they play the music for the Chicken Dance and everyone gathers in the street to dance. They also have a "theme" every year. Two years ago when I was here, much to Jared's delight, the theme was Star Wars. They had Darth Vader and Storm Troopers. You never know who might show up. This year the theme was Christmas in July, so there was Christmas music and Santa hats. Watching the parade from any other street just wouldn't be the same!
For a small town (20,000 people), Saugerties puts on an incredible fireworks display. The crowd gathers for HOURS, there are booths selling lemonade and fried dough (no lousy funnel cakes here!) and the kids run around with patriotic-colored glow sticks. The fireworks last night began right on time (hallelujah!) at 9:45 and lasted for more than 30 minutes, with a grand finale that had the crowd cheering and clapping.
Happy Birthday America!
(and well done, Saugerties, well done)