Everyone Loves a Parade: Happy 4th of July

Automobiles play an important role in parades. Decorated convertibles have long been used to carry dignitaries and entertain the onlookers gathered along the parade route. Recently I attended the annual Fourth of July parade in Rancho Santa Fe, California. Of course, being a photographer I could not resist sharing the evening’s colorful fireworks display with you, too.

Since this was, after all, a family-oriented holiday celebration, I wanted to share this with family, and did. The last time I did so was many years ago, when my kids were little. Now, with my oldest about to leave for college at the end of the summer, I was glad that he was interested in joining me for this event. My daughter is away at summer camp.

We drove to Rancho Santa Fe and parked nearby – an advantage of having the mobility offered by a car, and of celebrating a major holiday in a relatively small community. It was lunch time so the first thing we did was make a bee-line for the BBQ. We were not disappointed. There, for our eating pleasure, were traditional, reasonably priced 4th of July BBQ items including hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken sandwiches, along with all the trimmings.

We picked a shady spot on the cool, damp grass. Will I ever remember to bring a blanket or chairs to these events? I looked with envy at a large number of chairs reserved for members of a seniors’ center. While we enjoyed our lunches, we reflected on how good we have it here in America. It was an appropriate topic.

Afterwards it was time to scope out a vantage point from which we could watch the parade. As a photographer, my primary goal was to be in a place where I could get a relatively unobstructed view. My son, having been born with good sense, preferred to find a spot in the shade. If only cameras had the human capability to view something from a distance and still be able to isolate the subject matter – in this case, the parade. Oh well, to get my shots I stood behind a barricade on the street in the hot summer sun, while my son stood on the grass under the shade of a tree.

A generous supply of American flags was distributed on the already flag-lined streets so that people along the parade route could wave them. Red, white and blue balloons dotted the crowds.

Police, the military and a fire department led things off, with flashing lights and sirens blazing the way.

Local politicians and beauty queens followed in convertibles, to the cheers of the crowd.

Boy Scouts marched as the parade made its way in one direction and then returned in the other.

Participants threw handfuls of candy, much to the delight of kids along the parade route.

There were decorated cars, trucks, bicycles and more – including tractors and horses.

When it was all over, there was a live music concert nearby.

Later, in the evening, I joined some of my neighbors and drove to a nearby place where we could enjoy the San Diego County Fair’s big 4th of July fireworks show. We found a dirt lot, parked and waited for the approaching darkness. Others soon arrived too, and joined us. They parked all along the nearby street. Kids and their parents poured out of vehicles.

There was a sense of excitement in the air. People lit sparklers and reminded me of times long ago when I did, too. Sporadic (and, no doubt illegal) fireworks began to appear over nearby homes. Fortunately no fires broke out.

I sought a position where I could get a relatively unobstructed view of the sky over the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and double-checked the low-light settings on my camera. Then, promptly at nine o’clock, the show began.

Every time that I photograph fireworks displays I am taken by the physical size and bright, colorful splendor of what I see. Hopefully I have captured some of that for you. If not, there is always next time. Happy 4th of July!

Drive safely and do join me again next time.

Copyright © 2007 & 2021 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #239r1

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