Column by Bill Bradberry —
My ears perked up when I heard a gentleman, probably in his late eighties shout from his wheelchair parked against a hallway wall at the hospital, “Well, if it ain’t the Fofa July already ...”
Since his proclamation was aimed at no one in particular and everyone in general, I spent a few moments reminiscing with him; our conversation was short, but full of clues that eventually revealed to me that this man has a deep and abiding appreciation for the meaning of the Fourth of July.
Like me, he admitted few things swell his chest, choke him up and make him giddier than watching excited kids dancing around flaring sparklers, or fully grown adults and children gawking at bright, exploding gravity defying fireworks suspended against the smoke hazed sky, or, better yet, standing with them, all of us mesmerized by a good old fashioned drum and bugle corps ahead of a mile-long brass parade marching up the middle of an otherwise traffic choked street in solemn celebration of our Nations birthday.
There’s something wonderfully warm and fuzzy about the unique smells, the firecracker gun powder, the barbecues, the mid-summer sights and sounds of the Fourth, especially the parades with all of the proud flag waving girls and boys, men and women, patriots all, marching in time to the boom, bang and cymbal crash, baton twirling, syncopated rhythm of a good marching band.
At every parade, and there seemed to be a lot of them back in the day, not just on the Fourth of July, I remember standing as close to the action as my parents would let me on the side of Main and Falls Street.
Anticipation was a big part of the fun as the crowd began to swell. As kids, we were always anxious to get there early, in time to get a good spot where everyone could see everything.