Memories of July 4th | Notes on the Valley | Monith Ilavarasan | |

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By Monith Ilavarasan

Memories of July 4th

Uploaded: Jul 6, 2022

The first fireworks show I remember watching was on my parent’s Magnavox tube television. We huddled around the 27 inch screen on July 4th to witness our very first real American spectacle. As a kid I remember being glued to the screen and wondering if I would ever see a show like that in person.

Luckily a year later my dad brought me to San Francisco so that we could see the fireworks show in person. I distinctly remember him lifting me up and putting me on his shoulders so I could see above the crowd. I was blown away at the scale and sound of everything. The boom of the explosions made me nervous, but the colors and the movements were awe inspiring.

Since the 4th of July was often a long weekend, our family took advantage of this to plan longer weekend trips.

One of my favorite fireworks memories was with our family friends in Santa Barbara. There was a spot down in Ventura county where everybody went on July 4th to see the fireworks. Like most good spots, in order to get a good seat you had to get there obscenely early.

We went around lunch time and both our families set up a spot right in the middle of the park. We spent most of the day there talking to each other, playing silly games, and enjoying the beautiful weather.

The fireworks show came and went, but what I remember most about that night was the time that we were able to spend together. Both our families had known each other for a long time, but because of the distance we only had a few moments a year to spend together.

Thinking back on it I realize now that the 4th of July has never really been about the fireworks for me, it is about the people. After that first live show with my dad, the thing I remember least about independence day since then are the fireworks.

Years ago I was home from college visiting my parents and a few high school friends for the long weekend. My friends and I decided to drive up to a random spot in the Dublin hills to get a good view of the Tri-Valley firework show. It took us forever to find the place. It required using some dirt roads which was a bit risky considering we were driving there in one of our small compact cars.

It turns out this spot wasn’t very secret, as we were soon joined by a bunch of other people. We sat on the hood of our car and reminisced about the good old days while the fireworks show came and went.

As we were about to leave we noticed some commotion happening at a nearby car.

It turned out that someone’s truck was stuck in the mud. We went over to take a closer look, and eventually were knee deep in mud trying our best to help our new friends out. At a certain point it became pure pride that kept us trying to get the wheel unstuck.

We stayed well past when we had initially planned to leave. By the end nearly the entire group of people nearby were helping these folks. I have no idea how we got them out but eventually we did. Afterwards we got a slice at New York Pizza and talked about the crazy night we had.

In recent years it’s not the fireworks I feel excited about. I look forward to the 4th of July as an excuse to disengage from the daily grind and spend time with people I truly care about.