Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hometown July 4th

I know I was frustrated with small town reality in a prior post, but I do love being in the suburbs sometimes. Especially on July 4th. While NYC has it's big fireworks display over the rivers, I much prefer the family oriented pace offered by the towns.

Last year, we celebrated the 4th at my friends' Jack and Connor's house in the suburbs of Chicago  (photo seen here).

This year, we went to my father's hometown in New Jersey. I always enjoy going to my grandparents' house where I can run around the house and the front lawn. Plus, it gives me a chance to re-live some of my father's childhood experiences.

So when my father was growing up, the town didn't do that much for July 4th except for the requisite fireworks display at night. Now, the town really puts forth an effort. But because of the expected rainstorms, they had the festivities inside the high school cafeteria instead of outside on the massive lawn.

We met up with a new friend Ford and his parents. Apparently, he's a lot like me (same age, same shyness around new people, same fear of large animals). But this time, we apparently tacitly agreed to conquer our fears and get up on some wild horses. OK, so they were miniature ponies, but they were really big to us.

The rest of the July 4th activities weren't set up yet, so we decided to take a little break and get some lunch. A few hours later, we came back to the high school and found they had set up more things, but for adults.

There were a few carnival style food trucks with their fried dough and cheese steaks, but they also had a Dinosaur BBQ station where you could get pulled pork, chicken wings and ribs. My parents, however, were bigger fans of the beer garden they fenced off serving $4 Bud Lights and Stellas.

I tried to sneak a sip, but my mother caught me eyeing it and put a stop to that real quick. But that was OK. I had my carrot juice. I prefer the healthy stuff anyway. As you would imagine, the town event brought a lot of families with young kids.

My father looked around for people he knew, but most of the faces were unfamiliar. For some reason, he thought the entire town would be populated by people he grew up with (aged an additional 15-20 years), but nope. They were all unknown middle-aged parents from around the area who probably moved into town for its family friendly setting and strong public school system. The people in town had changed a lot since my father grew up here.

Speaking of differences, another change was all the new houses that went up. Driving around, my father noticed how many new homes were built in areas that used to be pretty dense forest. I suppose that was bound to happen as housing demand outpaced supply.

But as a result, a lot of the animals in the area must have been displaced as deer sightings along neighborhood roads have become far more frequent. In fact, my father had his own sighting as well that morning as one deer jumped out of the bushes and slammed into the side of our car as we were driving. You'd think these graceful animals would be smart enough to not T-bone a big metal object, but nope.

Of course, the deer got up and jumped back into the woods while we were left with a few thousand dollars of repair work. Fortunately, no one was hurt, except for my father's wallet. I wonder if the auto body shop accepts frequent flyer miles...

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