Independence Day 2011

Happy birthday, America! Vivian and I celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence with our friends in the traditional way: music, dancing, and lots of heavy artillery.

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Our three-day weekend started off with a hot night of music down at Memorial Park. Every year, Bank of the West hosts a giant outdoor concert, and Vivian and I weren’t even sure we would be going until the last minute. It was an absolute steam bath outside and the bands were 38 Special and Cheap Trick, neither of which I knew much about. The crowd, however, was decidedly smaller this time around — last year you could only find a spot with a view of the stage if you showed up at five in the morning. There was plenty of open seating down the hill toward the stage, so Vivian and I found a comfortable spot and ate Dippin’ Dots while listening to Gonna Raise Hell and the theme to That 70s Show.

We also stayed for the fireworks and then hitched a ride back to our car on the back of the KMTV Action 3 News van.

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On Saturday night, Jenny hosted a hot, buggy barbecue up in northwest Omaha. Some of us showed our appreciation by drawing a portrait of Jenny on her driveway with smoke bombs (and a pimp fish). We “wrapped” it with a bow and gave it to her as a present. Jon grilled burgers and dogs out back, and I mixed a few piña coladas for anyone who wanted one. Ben, Jon, and Keith made some creative use of paper airplanes by adding explosives to them and seeing what would happen. The result: lots of hilarious burning wreckage (some of which got into the neighbor’s yard). They also created a smoke-bomb Frisbee and set loose a glowing lantern, which drifted West and should be somewhere over Okinawa by now.

Naturally, we set off a bunch of fireworks out back (with plenty of artillery shells), and the girls tried using sparklers to write the words “wow” and “zoo” for Eric’s camera (with limited success). Once the explosives were all spent, we retreated indoors to play a couple rounds of Telestrations. I got the word President, which Keith was able to mangle inexplicably in just one turn, and someone else drew a pair of jellyfish — I mean a chair — which managed to put tears in Jenny’s eyes.

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On Sunday, we got to prove to the world what a cool church Twin Valley is by setting off even more fireworks in their parking lot once the sun went down. Elder Don put the event together and brought a large assortment of bright, shiny explosives for us to detonate. We let the little ones light a bunch of small, sparkling fountains first before shooting off our Black Cats and artillery shells.

The Omaha metro seemed to be a veritable war zone all weekend long, with fireworks in nearly every neighborhood and crackling going every night for weeks in advance, so we certainly got our fill of pyromaniac glee. (Of course, a few members of our group seemed more interested in setting up a Facebook account, but that’s OK — we don’t judge.)

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On Monday the Fourth, Vivian and I joined a bunch of our fellow Jitterbugs to dance in the annual Independence Day Parade up in Ralston. We had a huge turnout for the parade and almost couldn’t find a parking spot as every available lot nearby seemed to be filled to capacity. We danced down main street enduring the heat with bottled water and an assortment of ice cubes pilfered from the cooler on the back of our black Jitterbug Truck. We crashed at the Dairy Queen on 72nd Street (along with the rest of Ralston) where Jitterbug president Nate treated us all to ice cream and lunch before calling it a day.

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We wrapped up our holiday weekend that evening at Fazoli’s with Ben, Jenny, and Tamra, and then Vivian and I went down to the waterfront to see some fireworks. It didn’t seem right to end the weekend without seeing fireworks from the pedestrian bridge, but they’d been moved from Harrah’s Casino to the Horseshoe further island due to the Missouri River flooding. There were plenty of people outside to gawk at the water level, which was drowning the poor statues over on Lewis and Clark landing. We still got a fairly good view of the fireworks from the bridge before heading home and calling it a night.

Video evidence from Jenny’s party



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