Independence Day and Thanksgiving are my favorite holidays. Don’t get me wrong. I love Easter and Christmas but those are Holy Days first, holidays second. This week, I’m looking back at some memorable Independence Days. Before moving to East Tennessee, I lived in Southern California and Northern Virginia.
When my family lived in Burbank, we would go to the Starlight Bowl every July 4th for a concert followed by a nice display of pyrotechnics. If you sat high enough up on the lawn, you could also see the Universal Studios fireworks in the distance. There were a few years when we didn’t know enough to get tickets in advance for the Starlight Bowl and we ended up watching the fireworks from the top level of the parking garage at the Media City Center (now known as the Burbank Town Center) or from the railroad tracks that they turned into a bike path along Chandler Boulevard.
I went to see the fireworks in DC only a few times. One year before I was married, a friend named Joe hosted a party in his apartment just off Maine Avenue with an amazing view of the Mall. My future wife was at the party with her date, who is now a lawyer in Las Vegas. My date for the evening became a Fredericksburg City Council Member. Joe, our host, was soon to start a job working for Congressman Joe Barton. I haven’t talked to him in years, so I Googled him. Turns out he’s a past chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Chairman Joe Kelliher. Imagine that!
Another year, WAVA sponsored a Beach Boys concert at the foot of the Washington Monument. It was their return to the Mall after the James Watt controversy. The other acts on the bill were Joan Jett, Jimmy Page and some others I can’t remember (New Edition maybe?). The concert ran long and the fireworks started before the music ended. The only way we could see the fireworks from the stage was by looking straight up in the air. Mr. T and John Stamos were both playing drums with the Beach Boys but Mr. T’s drum kit was stuffed with towels to muffle the sound. There were more backup singers and musicians than there were Beach Boys on stage. Only the guy running the sound board knows for sure which microphones were turned on and which were turned off, although I have my suspicions. After the fireworks, Bean and I were told to go out on stage and ask the crowd to disperse peacefully and to put their trash in the garbage cans. The crowd pressed against the snow fencing and chanted at Bean and me: “F*** you, we want Page!”