Celebrating the Fourth of July
For the past several years, I have driven to Eastman Wisconsin to celebrate the Fourth of July. This is home for me and it is the perfect time to escape Texas and spend some time with family and old friends.
The parade and associated celebratory activities were started during World War II by my Uncle Dan Boom and some of the other city fathers in an attempt to boost morale. Early pictures show World War I doughboys marching in formation. The town itself is quite small, perhaps three hundred people now and stretches for a mile along Highway 27.
Several days before the Fourth, a note is left on people’s doors to remind them to donate a pie to the event. Nearly everyone makes a homemade pie–totally from scratch including the crust. Rhubarb is plentiful and there is always the freezer for berries and peaches and apples.
The festivities begin at 10 with the parade. The first group is always the veterans and the flags and always greeted with wild waves and cheers. Then there are dairy princesses, politicians campaigning, assorted floats with winning softball teams or the 4-H or Boy Scouts, bicycles or motorcyles dressed up with red, white, and blue streamers, lots of firetrucks all running their sirens, antique tractors, the flag-tractor-wagon float, high school bands, funny cars, and then the horses. Each float throws candy, icy pops, string cheese, frisbees, noisemakers, pencils, funky erasers, and of course, campaign literature.
Then everyone either goes to the schoolhouse grounds or to their backyards for a picnic. At the school house, you can get a brat (prepared by my second cousin) and then a piece of that home-made pie with a scoop of ice cream. Before the series of softball games begin, there are sack races and water balloon tosses—all for the grand prize of a dollar. The softball games last all afternoon beginning with the peewees and going up through adults. Mud volleyball is off in one corner with people signing up for the next year’s events.
Around 8:30 or so, people again begin to gather to claim a great spot for the fireworks. Fireflies dance across the cornfields–which were well over knee high!-. The fireworks are set off from a farmer’s field who patiently doesn’t seem to mind the holes dug in his field every year for the project. One of my high school classmates–and it was no surprise that he organizes all of this–he was not exactly academically gifted or interested–spends the entire year putting together the fireworks. The fireworks last over half an hour and are spectactular.
Then’s its home to my girlfriends house to stare at the stars, drink some wine, eat some cheese, and just talk.
What a wonderful day!
Pictures of the wonderful event are here: