August 3, 2010

In August the town of Oak Bluffs put on its annual fireworks show. There were smaller displays on the Fourth of July, but the August fireworks were the ones we waited to see. All year long the fire department raised funds for the event that, for many of us island dwellers, was the reward for surviving the onslaught of the “tourorists.”

Every year we’d pack the car with kids and blankets and food, and drive the scant two miles from our house to as near as we could get to Ocean Park. Every year we would make our way to the same spot in the park, facing the harbor and to the left of the gazebo where the band played. And every year we settled amidst the same blanket neighbors as the year before—other locals, friend or just friendly faces we’d usually only encounter for this one event.

We’d stake our real estate and the band would strike the first note. Like suckers to the siren’s call, little kids and larger kids were drawn to the gazebo to dance round and round its circumference. We’d eat our picnic, chat with folks, the sun would set, and the show would begin.

It was a show like no other, we were convinced. The fireworks, shot from a barge, burst over the water to the oohs and aahs of the spectators. The firemen walked homemade displays down the sidewalk— the tippling town drunk, a man-sized duck, a rocket ship—shooting fountains of sparks.

And then the finale, going on and on, blowing our minds with its layers of excess, culminating in a cacophony that made us scream with joy. And then, silence. And then, in the dark, thousands of applauding hands, thousands of cheering voices.

And then, we tired and satisfied folk would pack up our selves and our stuff, wave goodbye to our annual neighbors, and find our way home.

A nice thing… a noisy joyous neighborly bit of real estate, claimed for a few hours, one night a year.

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4 Responses to “Fireworks”

  1. Geoff Woollacott said

    We do something similar in Jaffrey where the August deal is bigger. Local fireworks company does it. Takes hours to get in and out at the ground show, so we go by boat and watch them out over the lake.

  2. iamsurly said

    “the tippling town drunk”… now this is something, like “the village idiot” that is on my list of life goals.

  3. Dale said

    I like the serene relaxation of this, the leisurely ritual, the tight-knit community, the owned tradition. There are LOTS of nice things in this one! Like your paragraph about the finale.

  4. OwlSaysWho said

    This sounds wonderfully refreshing, especially after the onslaught of “tourorists” . . . I’m sharing that term with my peeps in Michigan who live in a tourist economy.

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