My Independence Day...
We here at A Bubbling Cauldron hope you all had a safe and sane Independence Day this year. We spent our holiday where we could grab a taste of small town Americana and not have to worry about a week of illegal fireworks ruining our sleep and causing neighborhood pets to become apoplectic.
NO FIREWORKS, PERIOD!
We journeyed to the small Central Coast community of Cambria, where being found even possessing fireworks - "legal" or illegal - carries with it a MINIMUM $2,000 fine! As a result, during our several-day visit we heard NOT ONE firework being discharged - except on the evening of the 4th, when the entire community gathers to watch a professional fireworks show being shot off from the beach.
THEY MANAGE WITHOUT THEM
I couldn't help but contemplate how this little community - right at 6,000 permanent residents - manages to get along without so-called "safe and sane" fireworks when we here in Costa Mesa seem to be unable to even contemplate life without them.
ONE DAY OF CELEBRATION
They condense the celebration into one day - July 4th. They have an all-day party in a large municipal park right at the beach. Thousands of residents and visitors to this tourist-oriented town gather for food, music and fun.
There are waiter/waitress races, where teams from local restaurants have a great time competing against each other for bragging rights for a year.
There are pie-eating contests sponsored by a local establishment famous world-wide for their Olallieberry Pies. These contests are a hoot! Contestants must eat a pie hands-free with the ten-minute time limit with no assistance except from a "scraper", a person who helps keep the pie stacked in front of the eaters. So, it's face-down, gobbling the pie until not a morsel is left on the table.
FACE DOWN AND FURIOUSLY EATING
The boys and girls and the women eat small pies but the men must devour a full-size FOUR POUND Olallieberry pie. The record, set last year, is five minutes, eleven seconds - set by the fellow who finished a distant second this year. The winner this year finished well over seven minutes.
QUEEN COVERED IN PIE
In the women's competition, contestants from the Miss California Mid-State Fair competition - including the the recently-crowned Queen, Sabrina Dunn from nearby Templeton - participated. In fact, Dunn won the pie eating contest! Last year's queen, and a runner-up this year, Eloida Moore from Cambria, also competed. When was the last time you saw a beauty queen with pie jammed up her nostrils?
There were stands selling hot dogs, hamburgers, tri-tip sandwiches, drinks, strawberry shortcake, corn on the cob, pies and Independence Day baubles as fundraising events for a variety of community needs.
There were families making a real celebration of it, with pop-up shade shelters, coolers full of food, beverages and lots of fun and games.
There was music from the permanent bandstand from 9:00 a.m. until the fireworks began more than half-a-day later.
A PERFECT DAY FOR A FIREWORKS SHOW
The highlight, of course, is the discharge of the professional fireworks show that begins after dark - this year it started at 9:15 - and continues for around 45 minutes, or until all the shells have been fired out over the ocean. Friday was an overcast day - as is the case most days on the Central Coast this time of the year when the intense heat inland Paso Robles environs pulls a blanket of fog ashore along the coast. Sometimes that fog lingers into the night and the fireworks are just colorful puffs in the clouds. This year, though, at sundown the fog - right on cue - withdrew a few miles offshore and the celebration proceeded under a cloudless sky with a chunk of moon looking down.
INCREASED SAFETY PRESENCE AT HOME
In the meantime, back here at home our public safety folks were out in force, trying to protect the city. According to sources, Fire Chief Dan Stefano had a few extra staffers on duty for the day and night. He had three arson investigators teamed up with police officers for much of the night. I'm told we had approximately half our police force on duty on Friday - including Chief Tom Gazsi, who was in uniform, on the streets trying to maintain peace on a day when the combination of patriotic revelry, safe and sane fireworks masking the use of illegal stuff and too much alcohol created some difficult times - including a tragic event where an allegedly-drunk woman crashed into two people who were in the middle of West Wilson Street setting off fireworks, HERE. According to sources, both those young people remain in a trauma unit with serious injuries.
GOD BLESS AMERICA
So, neighbors, I hope you paused to recall what this holiday is supposed to be all about. Remember the sacrifices that men and women have made over the years to create this wonderful country, and to defend it when challenged. Now take a moment to watch this short video of Kate Smith singing God Bless America, a song written nearly 100 years ago.... watch as the video plays - you'll likely see some familiar faces. Ms. Smith...