I'd had high hopes for our first big 4th of July celebration. Ethan's first two 4th's were rather mundane, consisting of screaming for hours leading up to and following the fireworks, completely oblivious to their existence (his first 4th) and sleeping through the fireworks, completely oblivious to their existence (his second 4th). So this year, I wanted to buck that trend and introduce him to the festivities.
Fortunately we seem to have moved into the most 4th-of-July crazed neighborhood in all of Los Angeles. Friends of ours who also made this move cross country told us about the kid's parade that makes its way through our streets at 10am the morning of the 4th. See, they have a leg up on us because their moving truck actually got here last week, hence they actually live in their house right now and not in some hotel room five miles away. Because of this they have already met half the neighborhood and their kids are already in playgroups and classes for the summer. I, on the other hand, when our stuff arrives, someday, am going to be sitting out on my front fence with a cranky toddler and a sign that says, "Please be my friend!".
Did I digress? Did I get all melodramatic crazy? Ooops.
So considering we had to commute to our own neighborhood to join in the festivities, we woke up early, braved the batshit crazy breakfast crowd at this godforsaken hotel and then headed over to our house. After checking to see that the cats are still alive and glowering at us, we headed over to our friends' house one street over to find that we are, indeed, ill-prepared.
We have a stroller for Ethan because we aren't entirely incompetent. But we have no 4th of July bling. The girls' bikes were draped in shiney red, white and blue garlands and their helmets were equally bedazzled. Ethan's stroller? Brown. His shirt? Brown. I wanted to make a sandwich board that said "WE'VE ONLY BEEN HERE A WEEK. WE DON'T KNOW FROM YOUR CRAZY 4TH OF JULY FANCYPANTS PARADES!" But then, these guys have only been here a week, too, so that foiled that idea.
Thankfully they lent us a length of garland which we whipped around E's stroller and VIOLA! Festive. And thankfully some real estate agent had gone around the day before shoving red, white and blue pin-wheels in peoples' mailboxes, because that meant we not only had shiny garland, we had a kicky pin-wheel, too.
The parade was surreal. Like the neighborhood just threw up red, white and blue all over itself. But in a good way, you know? Kids on bikes, trikes, scooters, in wagons and strollers. And all of them decked out in red white and blue clothes and sporting some kind of patriotic colored (b/c I'm tired of writing "red, white and blue) noisemaker or hat or whatever. Basically if you could find one in the right color, you could have strapped a red white or blue kitchen sink to your head and you'd have fit right in. And I mean that in a good way.
We didn't just haphazardly wander through the neighborhood, either. We followed the big brightly colored (guess what colors?!) banner, and the guy whose wagon was wired for sound. He pulled his little Radio Flyer wagon with a boom box and amplifier in it, and the sounds of "Stars and Stripes Forever" echoed off of every house in the neighborhood. People not actually walking in the parade came out onto their porches and front lawns and watched us go by, waving little American flags at us in patriotic approval.
After the five block parade, we all ended up back where we started--some woman's house, three streets over from our own, for lemonade and fruit salad (I'm sure there was other stuff, but that's what we had).
It was lovely to feel like part of a community, considering we don't actually even live there yet. It was so much nicer than having to wear helmets to the hotel dinners to protect ourselves from the rabid crowd of spaghetti wrestlers.
One of our friendly neighbors (please don't ask me her name, I cannot remember it for the life of me) told us about the fireworks down by the river (and be assured I will be writing about the Los Angeles "River" soon, too), so last night we put Ethan back in his stroller and headed down to get a good seat.
Having deprived myself of 4th of July fireworks for the past two years, I started feeling giddy somewhere around 5pm. So we might have gotten there a little bit early. By like an hour. With a toddler. Past his bedtime.
Are you picking up what I'm putting down here? Recipe for disaster. But Ethan was being a real trouper; no signs of sleepiness or crankiness. We talked to him about what the fireworks were going to look like and sound like and even had him yelling "KaBOOM!!!" and giggling happily in anticipation of the real thing. We played silly games with balloons and "let's fall down on Daddy over and over again" until it was dark enough for the pyrotechnics to begin. The first "thwump" sound of the shell leaving the tube led to a beautiful red burst in the sky followed by a powerful "kaBOOM!!!"
You can imagine what happened next. Well, you don't have to, I guess, since I already told you at the beginning of the entry. First there was a look of complete shock and awe, then his bottom lip popped out and his face crumpled into a big old weepy mess. Hands immediately went for Mama and that was the end of that. In an attempt to shake him from his, "no no no no no," I said, "Ethan, aren't they pretty??!!" To which he said, "Very not pretty! Very not pretty!" and followed that up with "Go! Go!"
So, we went. In a mad dash to pack up our stuff and scurry out of the way, lest we piss of the other people who had been waiting for an hour to see the show and DIDN'T have a terrified toddler on their hands, and to avoid any further emotional scarring of our son.
We tried to stop a few times, the farther away we got from the actual display, but each time, Ethan would only peer out from his hiding spot in my neck and say, "no no no no". Okay.
So maybe next year.
But until then, here are some pictures of yesterday's festivities...
The exceedingly unhappy little man moments after leaving the fireworks display.