Fireworks; it’s an Independence Day tradition. However, it’s one that we have avoided over the past years. My son doesn’t like loud noises or crowds so we have generally stayed away from fireworks in the past; even gone as far as ensuring he’s asleep before they start if necessary. However, this year, for whatever reason, my son was insistent. He wanted to see fireworks. He said it’s what you do on Independence Day and he wanted to see it. I told the kids if they napped, then we would go. Since they both slept for almost 2 hours, we decided to keep up our end of the deal.
While the Berkeley fireworks are generally spectacular, the parking and walk to the marina is sub-optimal. We chose to go to a small set of fireworks in Pleasant Hill, further inland on the East Bay. We were able to find street parking only ½ a mile a way. The kids ran, bounced, and sang the whole way over to the football field set up as a viewing area. I saw the large crowds, so we went and found a spot near the exit and set up our chairs.
My daughter was all energy, bouncing around, dancing and singing in excitement. My son settled into his chair, and kept talking about how excited he was to see the fireworks. Soon the sun began to set and it became colder, so we brought out the blankets to warm up.
Soon after the sunset, we saw our first test firework go up. We watch it fly up high, then BOOM! As it exploded into color, everyone oooh’d and aahh’d. Everyone, that is, except my son. He put his hands over his ears, screamed, and said “It’s too loud!”. Soon another test went up and he panicked again “It’s coming toward us! It’s too scary, I want to go home!”. Too late now kid. We were in a sea of people, there was no way out. My husband took him in his lap and we both reassured him that the fireworks would not get him, and he could sit on the lap the whole show with his ears covered. Once he realized that the fireworks really weren’t going to get him, he relaxed a bit.
The fireworks were choreographed with music, using patriotic songs such as “Born in U.S.A”, “God Bless the U.S.A.” and the Star Spangled Banner. Then after the music was a spectacular finale filled with lights and mostly red, white and blue fireworks. It was a beautiful show that left me feeling proud and humbled to be a citizen of this great country. My daughter was on my lap, and I knew she was fascinated by the show. She became heavier and heavier as she focused on looking up at the sky at the show above her. My son eventually settled down and while he didn’t totally enjoy it, he was able to uncover his ears a little by the end.
The only compliant I have about the event was the exit. The fire marshall took well over 20 minutes after the show to clear the road, which meant that the entire crowd was waiting by the gates to be let out. There were many complainants from our two children during that time. However, to give them credit, after the gates opened, they walked without too much complaining all the way to the car, even though it was 10:30 PM and way, way, WAY past their bedtime. We made it back to the car and the two were asleep seconds after we took off, dreaming of rockets, fireworks, and bursts of colorful light.