Friday, July 04, 2008


The Mid-west truly is different than the North East, where I grew up, in a lot of ways. I'm not sure that Ryan's complaints of general rudeness ring true with me, but then I was an insider in that culture rather than a new-comer. And any comments about terrible directions are true, there is a definite sense of, well, if they don't know how to get there, then surely they don't deserve to get there. However the difference that I want to talk about and was really struck with actually for the first time last year on the fourth of July, was the fireworks.

We had gone to Indiana to spend the day with Mia's folks last year, and drove back at dark. I had been sad that I hadn't seen any fireworks shows, but I shouldn't have been, the sky was literally illuminated in all directions by fireworks flying over the roof tops. I have never seen so many everywhere at once. I guess in Connecticut they are just a little more illegal.

This year I decided to go see the fireworks downtown in Chicago, last year we watched them from the point, and it was absolutely disappointing, because they were about 7 miles away, rendering them puny and silent. So this year, since I knew that I could walk home (eventually) if the crowds were terrible, I decided to do it.

I had read that they were expecting over a million folks to show up last night, and boy were they ever right. I got off the blue line, and entered a sea of people. Alex and I made our way slowly through Grant Park, wrestled through the Taste, which had added an extra layer of impossible to everything, and get to the lake, where we sat on a hill and waited.

And waited. Why does everything always start late? Finally they started after teasing us a few times with some "test shots" at 9:50, only 20 minutes behind schedule. It was so worth it though! Standing right there at the water's edge at Monroe Harbor, the fireworks were huge, and shook you when they exploded. It was really a great show, lots of really pretty explody things that I wish I knew how they got them to work, like how'd they get a heart shape in a circle?

Then of course it was over and it was a game of trodding out with the masses. I made Alex guess how long it would take us to get from the lake shore to Michigan Ave. he guessed 45 minutes, it took us 20! It was needless to say absolutely nuts, it was finally walkable past Dearborn, and then Alex estimated that about a third of the people dropped off after every intersection after that, and finally past Union Station everything was all cleared up. Alex caught the bus at Halsted, and I hurried on home the rest of the way. I did try to catch the bus, but everything was all full up.

All in all it took me an hour and twenty minutes to get home from the moment the fireworks stopped to walking in the front door, a time that I'm not convinced that could have been decreased by the use of public transportation.


Ryan said...

That would be pretty awesome, I must say. It'd be nice to see it up close--I always liked it from the Point, but it was always a bit small, relative to the sky.

And, I think my comments on rudeness mostly apply only in New Haven. Whenever I go even just up into Hamden or North Haven, or down into West Haven or Orange, people are much better there.

Embly said...

Huh, I wonder why there is so much New Haven rudeness? I choose to blame Yale and the divisive qualities it has on the town....yes.

Ryan said...

That seems reasonable. After all, it's the usual strife but Yale really does own about a quarter of the land, it seems. Probably not actually that much. But a lot. But like, half of downtown.

Elizabeth said...

Mmmm I'm jealous. Although I'm seeing the fireworks on the mall tonight, and those are always a good show. One of the few things DC does right, maybe.