Ok, back to July. Rock Harbor is in Orleans, on the bay side of the Cape. It's a quiet place with small boats due to the shallowness of the channel. There are sad-looking pine trees marking safe passage for the incoming and outgoing boats.
I have spent most of my 4th of July's there. Well, not actually the 4th, because Orleans doesn't have fireworks on the 4th. Provincetown has the fireworks on the actual holiday, and the other towns don't double up to avoid competing. So it's truer to say that I've spent most 2nd's, 3rd's, and 5th's at Rock Harbor.
We developed a system over the years to perfect our fireworks experience. My father is a mason, and has an F350 dump truck. In the morning, we drive the truck to the parking lot to get the best space and leave it there for the day with the staging in the back and a cooler of provisions locked in the cab. As it get's dark, we throw bikes into the other truck and drive to park at Snow's, which is about a mile walk from Rock Harbor. We ride the bikes in through the droves of cars and people struggling to get to the harbor. We set up the staging on the bed of the truck and invite friends and family to find their own way to join us.
The entire parking lot fills with people. Vendors set up shop selling fried food, hot dogs, burgers, cotton candy, ice cream, etc. People pushing carts full of light up toys wander back and forth through the crowd. When I was a kid it was the simple snap them and they glow necklaces. Now there are light up swords that play music and other crazy things. My honorary niece and nephew, Alex and Abby, (my best friends children) joined us this year and it was so much fun to watch them reenact my childhood.
All of the locals find their way down there and congregate. I have a very large family and we know a lot of people, and everyone recognizes the truck with the staging, because we are the only ones crazy enough to do it. So we spend the hours before sunset talking to old friends. As soon as it gets dark, we climb up into the truck and start vying for the best perches on the staging. My Dad get's the best seat on the top level. When I was a kid I always got to be with him, but now I have to adult and I jostle for a good position like everyone else. I ended up on the second level this year, with Alex. (Bearded man behind me is Dad <3)
The fireworks are shot out over the water from the beach. The show is always wonderful, and the colorful members of my family put on quite a show as well with loud "ooh's and aaahh's". We are never quiet, and travel in packs (my father is one of 6 brothers). Like many large families, we collect people who become 'family' whether they like it or not. We end up with quite the congregation around the big white truck with the brick design.
No matter how old I get, I'll always love the fireworks. Rock Harbor will always be fireworks in my eyes. I drive by it every day to get to work, and it makes me smile every time. I stopped in the other day and took a few pictures, because September on the Cape is amazing.
I realize this post has a ton of pictures, but sometimes, pictures wrap around words or words wrap around pictures and it makes everything that much better. I love this place not only for what it is, but for all of the memories I have there, and memories I look forward to making with my own kids someday. So I hope this made you think of your own 4th of July traditions and celebrations and made you feel warm and happy, and reminded you to try and retain your sense of childish wonder at the world.