Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

It's Independence Day!

The 4th of July rolled around rather quickly for me this year so my plans for the day were very last minute.

Los Angeles is not the most patriotic area in the U.S. and past 4ths have gone by without much hoopla. I admit that I am a little spoiled and elitist concerning the 4th as I use to live in the Washington DC area which does 4th of July the best of all the regions nation-wide. (My own island does a "bang up" job too as it's also our Emancipation Day when local enslaved Africans were freed from from the Danish).

DC's 4th begins with a parade in the a.m. then a Navy band concert at 6 pm followed by a big spectacular starring the best entertainers the country has to offer at a big gathering on the Smithsonian Mall in front of the Washington Monument. There are tons of food vans and BBQ pit vendors selling every kind of food, drink, candy or toy imaginable. Thousands of people come from the tri-state area(DC, MD, VA)as well as tourists from the rest of the U.S. and the world. I have met people from Europe, China and Africa, all having a good time jamming to the music and sampling the eats. Everyone brings a blanket or a folding chair or they just sprawl out on the grass and chill. Kids hop, skip and roll on the grassy banks, getting all sticky and dirty.

Since there are large crowds, the best way to get there is via the metro subway system which is also the best in the country. To move the crowds quickly, the metro sells quick one day cards in advance. Each card has a patriotic design and an electronic strip so the cards get you to and fro quickly. They also have express trains that only stop at the site as well as extra staff on hand to "herd" the crowds through the correct boarding areas.

People there always wear their patriotism proudly by dressing in the red, white and blue, waving flags or wearing flag pins. The kids join in by spinning flag yo-yo's or shiny red, white, and blue metallic windmills or other innovative and themed toys. One year I got a flag pin that flashed the red, white and blue in small colored lights. As it got dark, all you could see was a sea of pins flashing in the dark on everyone as the crowd strolled pass.

The night ends with the best pyrotechnic display ever and as the fireworks explode over the sky you see highlights of the DC sky line with all its beautiful buildings, monuments and statues including the Capitol building and the Lincoln Memorial. The fireworks lasts for a bout an hour and are timed to music. The cost for fireworks usually tops 500,000 to 1 million each year but it's well spent as the event brings in tens of millions of dollars to the region.

When it is all over, you stroll the 2-3 blocks to the subway on tree lined streets. One route takes you right pass the White House which is appropriately located at 1600 Independence Avenue. . There is a small access gate manned by security and people crowd it asking if they can take the White House tour. As the tours are usually over for the day, many will linger there hoping to see a peak of whatever sitting president is in office, which usually never happens. Some get a tad too close and the secret service deals with them quickly and professionally.

In comparison, LA's 4ths have been non-existent. In fact, I don't even remember seeing one flag or fireworks for the 2 previous 4ths that I've been here. I was determine to have a spectacular 4th this year. I had heard that Studio City has a great celebration yearly from the mayor of Studio City himself, Neckles as we walked the picket line of the writer's strike in November 2007. All the local TV shows were also raving about it but as Studio City is a bit farther out it was a no-go for me. I heard Pasadena's 4th is also nice and held at the Rose Bowl so I decided to head to Pasadena instead.

I didn't want to go as far out as the Rose Bowl itself but would go as far as Old Towne Pasadena, which is always lovely to visit and accessible by bus on the weekends. The day was absolutely lovely and I was feeling well so I was stoked. The streets in Old Towne and the entire length of Colorado Blvd. here were lined with large flags which flapped as the wind picked up which was very patriotic.

I got to Old Towne early and caught a movie at my fav $2 theatre from 5-6:40 pm. Independence Day is always a good day to catch a summer blockbuster but I watched "How To Train Your Dragon", an older Disney/Dreamworks release from February. I liked the movie a lot but felt it "borrowed" quite a bit from Anne McAfferty's Dragonrider's of Pern novels. After the movie ended, I exited, stared at the Sierra Madre Mountain range and waited for the fireworks to start at what I though would be 7-7:30 pm. It was still light out so I waited until 8 pm when it was dark but still no fireworks. I started asking everyone when the fireworks usually started and where was the best place to view them but no one knew.

I thought maybe I had missed them and I was truly spent for the day so I get on a bus for home at 8:50 pm and as we ride up Colorado Blvd. I see people gathering in mass, carrying folded chairs and staking out a viewing spot on a grassy knoll and along a bridge. More throngs of people were walking in a long trail from every direction. I ask my fellow riders on the bus "when do the fireworks start" and they all say "9 pm". I consider getting off the bus and joining them but I don't because I hope that the bus will be the best vantage point. All of a sudden, the bus that was creeping along now speeds up and I pray "slow down, so that I can see the fireworks". We move along Colorado, dip into a valley and clear the Sierre Madre range just as the clock hit's 9 pm. I see one firework breast the sky and explode then I spent the rest of the bus ride craning my neck looking for more but that was it for Pasadena's.

Later, I could hear the booom-boom of fireworks from the city of Glendale's display but couldn't see them. I got home at 11:00pm as Echo Park/Atwater's fireworks were exploding over the sky in the distance. I raced to the top floor of my building and watched fireworks for about 10 minutes then hit my bed, exhausted. Maybe next year I will make it to one of the big Independence Day events but it was still an enjoyable day all in all.

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