United in Rock

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Happy Independence Day, America! Vivian and I had a great weekend with our friends all over Omaha. We kicked off the weekend with a bang (literally) at Memorial Park, rocking out to the sounds of Kansas, Styx, and Foreigner with over 80,000 of our fellow Omahans. There were people claiming spots before five in the morning for the 6 p.m. concert, but I was able to squeeze in a spot for a couple of us after leaving work early. We had a terrific view of the stage, and I managed to squeeze my way to the front of the crowd to snap a few closer shots of Styx as they performed. Joining us on our blanket were Jenny, Ben, Randy and Jolene. Many other friends of ours also shared spaces at the park, from Becki near the front of the stage, to Hugh and Sarah who managed to squeeze in somewhere behind the port-a-potties.

The concert itself was terrific — the bands all played a selection of their signature songs, and they topped off their performance with a spectacular fireworks show. Naturally, it was a bit of a hassle to squeeze our way through the crowd back to our cars, but we were able to get downtown to JNO to stagger through half an hour of dancing before calling it a night.

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In other news, Vivian’s brother Oliver was in town for the week, so we took him out to eat at El Dorado’s, one of our favorite South Omaha restaurants, and we stuffed ourselves with a platter of surf and turf. On Saturday, at Oliver’s suggestion, I spent some time cleaning our deck with a pressure washer. I had been wanting to clean and seal it since we’d bought the house last winter, and the wood had several years’ worth of dirt and grime covering its surface. The pressure washer blasted it off so cleanly that it was actually fun! Next we’ll just have to wait for it to dry out long enough to stain and seal it. Then it’ll be as good as (nearly) new.

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On Saturday night, Keith and Jenny hosted a beer-tasting up in northwest Omaha. Keith brought a selection of mostly sweet beers, ranging from Leinenkugel’s summer shandy to a syrupy organic strawberry beer. I don’t think we had any consensus on what we liked best, though I had a preference for the Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat. Oscar grilled up burgers and brats for the bunch of us, and Eric make some root beer floats. After the sun went down we shot of plenty of fireworks (of course), though half the crowd seemed to enjoy watching the array of explosives our neighbors brought out across the street.

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We had a rainy morning on the Fourth of July, but a bunch of us in the Omaha Jitterbugs still made it down to Ralston to dance in their annual parade. It was actually nice to have a cool sprinkle during our parade than the muggy sauna that we’ve experienced in years past. We crashed at Dairy Queen afterward for burgers, ice cream and quite a few amusing photos with each other before going home to dry off.

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That evening, Vivian and I joined a few random friends to watch the fireworks form the pedestrian bridge downtown. The rivers was flooding some of the banks and providing quite a happy place for mosquitoes to breed and eat us alive. The muggy weather also made things rather interesting for fireworks — the smoke trails tended to hang in the air for minutes on end, and the low-flying clouds made the sky look like the multicolored rumblings of Mordor. We still enjoyed the light show, though, and we rounded off the evening watching Red Skelton DVDs at Lisa’s before calling it a night.

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