Mr. Fairway wanted to go to the fireworks. But Ella Numera Dos & I wanted to go to the FIREWORKS.
Dozens (hundreds?) of venues around what is known as the DC Metropolitan Area~including our very own 'burb~host 4th of July displays every year. And hundreds (thousands? millions? gazillions?) attend these festivities, which range from laser light shows to the Big Bang down on the National Mall between the US Capitol & the Lincoln Memorial.
We haven't been down to the BB in years. To negotiate the crowds, get a good space on the Capitol lawn, etc., one must do a little bit of strategic planning. Being Master Planners ourselves, the chica & I brainstormed extensively.
"You wanna go down to the Mall on the 4th?" queried the Mother Figure.
"For the fireworks?" asked the child.
"Yeah. Aretha Franklin & Barry Manilow, too. And somebody said something about Big Bird, Oscar & Elmo."
"Oh, I'll totally go for Oscar," said the child whose given name should have been the same.
"OK, let's do it!"
That small burst of enthusiasm lasted for, oh, about 5 minutes. Then I started to worry about real logistics.
On any given 4th, between 500,000 and 750,000 folks brave metal detectors, police officers with those wands that sweep your body for illicit paraphernalia & the mass of endless humanity to hunker down on the West Lawn of the Capitol to hear pop stars, classical artists and, yes, even the occasional Muppet perform, backed by the National Symphony Orchestra.
To say it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience would be understating the case. To say that getting one's act together to attend is a living nightmare would not be hyperbole.
So, Saturday dawned, cool & crisp. A late-September-type day. Nothing like the 95 degree heat and 95 percent humidity we often expect on July 4th. I was stoked. The chica was ambivalent.
The weather's perfect, the Mother said. The lineup is perfect, she added. We have nothing else to do, she reminded.
I've seen it before, the child pointed out. So much for raising your children in the shadow of the US Capitol. Yes, she's been to the concert a few times. And an inauguration or 2. And she's visited every other DC venue~historical or not~dozens of times in her almost-19 years.
Très blasé, oui? I wonder if kids in Orlando are like this about The Big Mouse?
I detected a slight change of attitude when the Father Figure announced we would all be attending the local fireworks. 11 citizens of our little 'burb were maimed by wayward shells 2 years ago at this very celebration. I looked at Ella. Ella looked at moi. She rolled her eyes & retired to her room.
About 7 p.m. (A Capitol 4th, as it's known, starts at 8), I took matters in hand. Marched up to the gal's room. Layed down the law.
"We're going to DC. Come on. Now."
That's all we needed. Someone to make a decision; put her foot down; rally the troops.
5 minutes later, Ella & I were in the car. 30 minutes after that, we'd snagged a sweet parking spot at Union Station. As we joined the throngs still in transit on the 10-minute stroll to the Capitol, Barry Manilow was wrapping up "Copacabana," and Big Bird & Co. were starting their "Sesame Street" schtick.
Things were so much more complicated than I had remembered. Security fences everywhere. Armed police, too. One couldn't scamper from Point A to Point B, as we'd been able to do in the past. In this post-9/11 world, especially in DC, everything's by the book, & then some.
But we were there. And we snagged an awesome viewing venue, too. On the Capitol steps, in the VIP section. I'll clue you in later this week on how we accomplished that. Meanwhile, enjoy these Superior Snaps. Shot by Ella, she of MOO fame.
I'm glad we went. And so, I might add, is she.