Possibly in subconscious reaction to last year’s Independence Day (when we sat on a NJ beach, looking up and down the sand and saying things like, “The flies are biting me!” “Hide the dog—the cops are coming!” and “Was that the fireworks?”), the Scheir family attended the good old downtown Dover 4th of July festivities.
First, we biked a couple of blocks, sat on a hot brick wall, and watched the 6 pm parade—which, notably, featured a man in a bamboo cage chillingly simulating a prisoner of war, unicycles, chihuahuas, drill sergeants, Mustangs, Corvettes, and enough candidates to make me wonder things like, “With a name like Bennett, shouldn’t that guy be running for Senate?” I was particularly impressed by US Rep hopeful Mr. Urquhart, whose campaign is built on spongy foam, heart-shaped “stress ball” giveaways, an RV with a giant picture of his head on its side, and his own theme song.
I have done enough research on the guy to uncover that back in April, he said it was Hitler who first used the phrase “separation of church and state” (it wasn’t) and encouraged the audience, “The next time your liberal friends ask you about the separation of church and state, ask them why they are Nazis.” Oh my—time for a new theme song.
Fast forward to 9 pm when we parked the car downtown, then entered the sea of humanity that is Dover’s Legislative Mall on the 4th of July. It seemed like every camp chair in town converged on the dry grass in front of Legislative Hall to take in the show, which was preceded by an Army band doing a darn good job of getting us all in the mood. The nice and possibly intoxicated gentleman who insisted that we lay our blanket in the 4 foot by 4 foot space in front of him did a nice job walking his group through what to expect (“The lights will dim, the 1812 Overture will start, the fireworks will go up! I don’t know why, but it brings tears to my eyes, man!”). Unfortunately, he was about 4 songs too early, but that was OK. We were too busy to notice because we were retrieving our superbouncing koosh ball from the quiet and a little shocked looking immigrant family on the blanket next to us (and I mean RIGHT next to us).
Anyway, right after “Stars and Stripes Forever” the Overture did start, and lo and behold there was actual CANNON FIRE!!! I know that’s the way it’s supposed to be, but I still didn’t see it coming, and even if I did, I would have expected a recording, and let me tell you, it was kind of awesome. Then, with the cannon fire were fireworks, which lasted about 10 seconds, leading us all to ask, in the tradition of last year, “Was that it?”
But that wasn’t it! No, the Dover organizers put on an amazing fireworks show cued to—wait for it—the Greatest Hits of the 1980’s. Van Halen! Journey! Madonna! Prince! What says “I Love America” more than the theme from “The A-Team”??!!?! Let me tell you—not much. Never did bon Jovi’s rock anthem “Dead or Alive” sound more patriotic to me than last night. Jon bon Jovi sings, “I’ve seen a million faces, and I’ve rocked them all!” and you think, “Yeah man, just like George Washington! He rode a horse too…and maybe sang a little in his spare time in his parlor. Or whistled through his wooden teeth. Whatever, man. ROCK ON FOUNDING FATHERS!”
All in all a great, kinda kitschy evening—enough to make us want to stay local every July 4th. But if we miss it, we can always go up the road to Smyrna, which is celebrating the 4th on the 5th. Or we could have gone to Aunt Bebble’s condo, which celebrated the 4th last Wednesday. Maybe I’ll celebrate the 4th on March 13th next year—I’m thinking a tribute to Judas Priest might work. Interested?