I checked out several of my former July Fourth opinion columns to see what I had written for you folks in past years. I found out that I am like a broken record when it comes to advice on how to enjoy that holiday. I am surprised that some of you even put up with it! Bird cage editions to be sure.
But then I wondered what else I might have said during the past several years that would have resonated with you readers and I decided I was dead-on after all. And besides, there are only so many things you can say about a Fourth of July celebration, and I’m guessing I have said them all.
So, we are going to have a little contest this year. Below are comments about the annual celebration. How many have you seen in this column before? How many address the upcoming 88th extravaganza as well as previous Independence Days?
1. First of all, write a check to the Fourth Celebration Society. If you can afford $100, great—if you can only afford $10, that is great as well. Every year it costs thousands of dollars to put on that fabulous fireworks show. I believe I heard that it runs about $15,000 a year. Donors and sponsors are a big part of the production. Be one.
2. Fly the flag and fly it properly. And, for Pete’s sake, stand up when the colors go by at the parade or the fireworks show. Remove your hat if you are wearing one. Put your hand over your heart. This is non-negotiable.
3. Take a deep breath and be patient. You aren’t going anywhere; you are already here. Thank the volunteers you see. They are the reason this event happens for you year after year!
4. There are park gates to be tended, set pieces and aerial displays to be built and discharged, kids’ games to be supervised, floats to be made, and horseshoes to be tossed. Each of you should volunteer to do something. Or (once again) write a nice big check to help pay for the fireworks. Yes, I know you and your family all are going to buy buttons, but you can write a check, too. I have it on good authority the Peabody Fourth Celebration Society doesn’t turn down donations of any size.
5. When was the last time you rode on a float … or a bike … or a horse? Here is your chance to once again star in a parade! It starts at 5 p.m., with line-up at 4 p.m. at the high school. Do you have grandchildren? Get them gussied up in red, white, and blue, and put them in your pushcart, your garden cart, or your golf cart. How about a little red wagon? Teach them to participate. See what a good granddad you are? Think of the memories you are helping them create!
6. Don’t have grandchildren? Buy some buttons for the kids whose parents may not be able to afford them. I know a couple who do this very thing for just about every event put on in Peabody. They are connected and caring about people — young and old alike — who cannot afford or don’t know how to be a part of our community events. They make sure that buttons or tickets are made available. They provide rides to functions and offer companionship so that no one is left adrift; no one is left sitting alone. You could do that too. This would be a good time to start.
7. Be appropriate with your fireworks. Obey the city ordinance about the days and hours for shooting them. Do it on private property, not in the streets, parks, or business district.
8. Go to all the events and have fun! Do your Christmas gag-gift shopping at the flea market. See the car show and the farmers’ market. Enjoy the parade and don’t whine if you get wet…I promise, you’ll dry! Be a player in the horseshoe tournament. Hang out at the park and enjoy it. It is a gorgeous place.
9. Pick up after yourself. Clean up your mess. This is important. Don’t leave your graw-doo at the park, on the street, in the gutters, downtown, anywhere. Be responsible!
10. The people who say they cannot help because they have so much company coming for the festivities always amuse me. Well, good grief! If it weren’t for the festivities, no one would be coming to your house! They all would be headed to the next town—the one with the fireworks show.
Bingo, you got it. You win! You knew that I said all 10 of those things in past July Fourth opinion columns. Wow, you are really good. I had no idea you could pay attention like that.
And now you know what I think we should all be doing on Saturday. No surprises there!
— Susan Marshall