America celebrated her 232nd birthday yesterday, having gained independence on July 4, 1776. And a traditional celebration mode is the combination of July 4th parade in the morning followed by fireworks in the night. The last time we partook of such a celebration was more than ten years ago, when we were still at Gainesville, once every year from 1991 to 1994, at Flavet Field in the UF campus (WT, a rising Junior at UF, remembers the name, not surprisingly).
I still remember we all used to walk from Corry Village, our four children in tow. Wify would spread out the picnic mat on an available spot on the grass field and we would sit on it, waiting for the pyrotechnics show to commence while listening (we were always seated too far to watch the action) to a live band performance on a nearby open-air stage. Then when the moment arrived, we would enjoy watching the night sky being lit up by an ebullient but ephemeral tapestry of bright spots in seemingly haphazard pattern, preceded by what sounded like a distant thunder and rising flares of projectiles in succession, eyes affixed skyward, mouth agog.
It was not until last night that we were able to reprise that child-like wondrous experience, at the invitation of Linda and Victor Hong to join them in Temple Terrace. But first, we visited their newly remodeled home that is close to being finished. It is spacious with an impressive new facade that has added depth to what was originally a ranch-style home, tastefully nestled among the stately trees. Then we were serenaded by the Hong's talented musicians, Victor on the drums, Kevin, a rising high school sophomore and his elder son, on trumpet, and Aaron, a rising 8th grader and his younger brother, on bass guitar. Then father and son (Aaron) switched roles to play on the bass and the acoustic guitar, respectively. I just wished WJ could have been here to put the sole Lee's flavor (he plays the guitar) into the musical mix.
Then we adjourned to a sumptuous dinner prepared by Linda. And the musical interlude continued wih a solo piano performance by Aaron, on an 20 years+ Roland electric piano, accompanied by some leisurely dance moves by Wify who did not seem to be able to keep her dance urges in check after her overtures to yours truly and then to Linda to join her were respectfully declined. At Wify's urging, Linda also played a tune, For Elise, on the piano (honestly this was the only number I know, the others seemed to be jazz pieces that I'm not familiar).
Then it was off to the computer room to be awed by Kevin's design of military aircrafts and Aarons' design of several animated games, under the watchful eyes of their pride parents.
Just before 9pm, we sauntered en mass to the nearby Golf course for the fireworks display, under the clearing sky that had hitherto threatened to rain on us accompanied by a distant rumble and lightning flashes. We found a spot, got seated, among the many like-minded audience, and waited patiently for the promised show to erupt above us. And we were not disappointed, reliving the memorable experience we last had more than ten years ago, captured here using the Nikon Coolpix L11 digital camera with the fireworks setting, thanks to our gracious hosts, the Hong Family.
Happy Birthday America!
The throng of people taking up their respective places. The distant display was apparently from another earlier fireworks display on another location, the relatively low height acheived belying their position further afield.
And the show we came to watch went ballistic.
This vertically stacked pattern was preceded by a staccato of shots reverberating and illuminating in the most magnificent glow of all, a grand finale to the night of celebration.