July 3rd is a big deal in our neighborhood.
It starts on July 2nd, Illumination Night, when neighbors can enter a contest for the most patriotically decorated home on the Neck. I decorate, usually on the last day of June or first day of July, and I’m still picking up speed. Last year I had fairy lights and bunting in the porch windows, this year I have fairy lights, bunting, and a swag for the front door. Next year I’ll accumulate even more.
The town of Weymouth, at the mouth of our bay, does a big fireworks display on the 3rd, and they launch from a barge on the bay, so those of us on the bay side of the peninsula get a personal fireworks display. About a week in advance, someone starts building a bonfire on the beach — last year’s centerpiece was half of a boat, this year it was a telephone pole — and all the neighbors add wood to the pile. During the day, there’s a family fun day for the kids with bouncy houses, a dj, face painting, sand castle building contests, a dunk tank, and a little kids’ bicycle decorating workshop with parade. This ends around 3 PM and that’s when people start barbecues and cookouts, and it is almost required of one to go around, socialize with the neighbors, nurse a cold drink, and sample the food. We ourselves had a small barbecue this year, a very small family style cookout, then trouped down to the bayside drive for the bonfire and fireworks display. And let me tell you, it is a ZOO down there. This year was a lot calmer, and I think the borderline inclement weather kept people away. People come from off the Neck even, there are cops everywhere, lots of teenagers (we call them FUYAs — Fine Upstanding Young Americans), rowdiness, and some arrests. I make a point of setting up my lawn chairs at our friends’ house — she’s a nurse at the hospital where Jim works, he’s a city policeman, they have a long-haired dachshund who’s Amy’s BFF. If I am at the place where all the beat cops are taking their breaks, I’m in a pretty safe spot. After the fireworks spectacular and HUGE bonfire, the motorcycle police contingent herds everyone away from the beach and the neighborhood gets quiet, and it’s just the neighbors again.
This year, it looked like it might rain. Jim and I got a tent to eat under in the backyard, and we made a cover for the back deck so he could grill in peace. We asked the neighbors, who’ve lived here since the 1940s, what would happen if it rained so bad they cancelled the festivities. “It’s never rained that hard,” they said. “There was that one year, but they just doused it with gasoline and set it off. Someone’s roof caught on fire. That’s why they always station the fire engine down at the corner of our street and the bay road.”
OH. Ok. Good to know.
After the non-“Neckahs” left, and our own guests had departed, we packed up a couple of cold seltzers and went next door to socialize. The corner our house is on is a pretty social one because most of the houses are all owned by one family, mother and sons and in-laws, and another son is just on the next street. We stayed up late and talked about dogs and allergies and how the neighborhood used to be. Then I got too tired and went home to bed, and Jim went to our neighbors on the other side, who host a party well in to the night for the motorcycle cops who are just getting off duty.
On the 4th, we were going to a friend’s pool party and outdoor potluck grillfest in the Ocean State, so I had to get up and make a potato salad, Jim had to take the tent and deck cover down, and we had to pack for a pool party with a pup in tow. I packed up everything left over from the party on the 3rd as well — veggies, broccoli salad, cheese. Amy loves the house in RI. She isn’t a fan of the pool, but she likes the big yard and the little kids. And all the adult people too. They’re ok. She discovered that her favorite Little Girl has a Three Year Old Boy Cousin. “MOM!” she says to me. (She always speaks in capitals.) “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THREE YEAR OLD BOYS WERE SO AWESOME?! I LOVE THIS KID! HE’S KIND OF OBLIVIOUS TO ME BUT HE’S MY HEIGHT AND LIKES BROCCOLI!” We didn’t get home til 10 PM or so, but the party was still going at our neighbors’. He has a big(ger) bash on the 4th with bands and enormous slabs of meat grilled on a rotating spit, and they block off the street and everyone in the neighborhood goes by the party. And it continues well in to the night, and they have fireworks. But we were far too tired to go by. We watched the Boston fireworks on CBS (and could hear them over the water — weird) and went to bed.
So yesterday was the 5th. You’d think the festivities would be over, but the neighbor still had food to cook up so there was an impromptu Leftovers Party. I took over the leftover potato salad from the day before to contribute to the spread. He cooked up endless loads of teriyaki chicken wings on the barbecue and we socialized some more. I still had potato salad leftover at the time we were leaving, but I convinced the person who said he liked it most to just let me fill a plate for him with what I had left. One fewer leftover in my fridge is a win.
Today is the 6th. I am totally socialized out. I never want to have another party ever again (I’ll change my mind in a month). Amy is dead tired (she didn’t nap for three days) and she thought yesterday was Monday. She was quite put out that I had to go to work. I had to explain three day weekends to her when I got back home. But I suppose it’s worth it to connect with your neighbors and celebrate the fact that it’s summer, and you can lounge around outdoors, and we live in a beautiful land.