Scorn on the 4th of July

06 Jul 2010 | 16:19

What can I say about the 4th of July that hasn't already been said?

It's the 4th day of the month of July.

It's the day we declared independence from a country that doesn't let its people die in emergency rooms because they don't have health insurance.  It's the day we declared independence from a country which isn't in perpetual war for the benefit of its corporations.  It's the day we declared independence from a country that gave birth to the Beatles.

In retrospect, I'm not convinced that it was a stellar idea.

Anyway, since I view patriotism as just another religion, I don't give a rat's ass about the "independence" aspect of the holiday ... I just want to see colorful lights in the sky.

Before I moved west, I used to celebrate the 4th of July in one of two places, either at the Washington Monument or the Brooklyn Promenade.

My very last east coast 4th of July was in New York City in 2000.  I watched the Yankees lose to the Orioles 7-6 in the Bronx, and after the game I immediately hopped a southbound train to catch the triple-launch fireworks that were being shot off in the NY Harbor for the new millennium (or "willenium" as Jada Pinkett's husband calls it).  It was one hell of a show.

Because of my over-exposure to massive fireworks in both DC and NY for about 32 years, I've always found the 4th in Las Vegas to be terribly underwhelming.  Instead of having one big show like most large cities, Vegas follows the lead of Los Angeles by leaving the shows up to scores of independent producers.

This makes choosing a show quite difficult.

Since I went to Sunrise Mountain last year to observe about 40 different simultaneous shows, I decided to stay closer to home this year in order to get a close-up view of a larger one.

Every year, the Las Vegas County Club and the Las Vegas Hilton team up to put on a tandem fireworks shows.  The Country Club goes first with about a 20 minute display, and as soon as it ends, the Hilton fires off a roughly 15 minute production.

At about 9pm, we piled into the car, drove to the Hilton parking garage, and proceeded to climb 7 flights of stairs to the top.

The Country Club fireworks show was actually very good ... certainly larger than the shows for most housing developments.  I've seen it before, it's always been very professionally done, and it continues to surprise me with its quality.

The Hilton show was another story.

I called the Hilton before arriving and asked them if they had a viewing area for their fireworks.  The nice lady on the phone informed me that the top of the parking garage had been closed to vehicles just for this purpose.  Unfortunately, she did not specify exactly which garage was being used as a viewing area.

We drove to the north garage, and it was indeed closed to cars, but the fireworks were being launched on the south side of the Hilton.


Honestly, it surprised me that the Hilton fireworks were being launched at such a low altitude.  They didn't even clear the top of the building.

I could see the very top of the larger bursts, but the vast majority of the show was invisible to myself and my companions.  We stood on the wrong side of the Hilton for the duration of the show and verbally described what we thought they would look like if we saw them.

"Ohhhh, I bet that one was red with sparkly things in the middle."

"Ahhhhhhh, that one was my favorite ... it was probably a blue burst that turned into the American flag"

Of course, we got dirty looks from the other spectators who were completely pissed, but we tried to make the best of it ... verbally narrating each bust to the crowd of about 50 people.

Thank god I am now old enough where I don't really care much about fireworks anymore, or else I may have been disappointed.

After all was said and done, we packed it in and drove back to Rexville, still describing our absolute favorites.

"Did you see that gigantic hi-res burst that was 3 miles across and spelled out 'Rex is a Pimp' in 45 different colors?"

"Yes, I did see it, congrats on that one."

What else could we do ...

Anyway, another 4th has come and gone.  I hope you had a good one.

Fictitious Deity Bless America.

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