Memories of past Fourth of Julys

Patrick Fisher,

This week marks 248 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, when the American colonies declared themselves free from the United Kingdom. Many people will be celebrating it by spending time with family, friends and with fireworks capping the day.

A little bit of history, John Hancock, who has the largest signature on the Declaration of Independence, was the president of the of the Second Continental Congress. He was the first person to sign the document. A story of why he signed the Declaration of Independence in such a large signature was so the king of the United Kingdom would be able to see it from far away without the use of eyeglasses.

For me, celebrating July 4 has been done in many ways. As a child and a teen, I celebrated it with family and as a reporter, I’ve gone to celebrations to cover it for the newspaper, and several times by myself.

The times I spent with family, there were times when my parents would let us as children hold sparklers. My parents were responsible in how we could use them, in their sight, and I think we had a spot to place the sparklers after they were spent. I have different memories of how we watched fireworks. If my family could see fireworks from our yard, we stayed there. More often, we had to go to someplace where we could see them. If it was a grassy area, my parents brought along a blanket or two to place on the ground. Other times, we watched from the family car. As a young child, there were a few times when the fireworks would get over and during the drive back home I would fall asleep.

One time where I more or less spent the day on my own was once when July 4th was in the middle of the week. I think I spent some time on the phone visiting with family. The town I was living in at the time wasn’t having any activities so I had the day more or less to myself. This was in the mid-to late1990s and I was living near Rochester at the time. It was the summer when the movie “Independence Day” was in theaters. So I went to a movie theater and saw the movie in a packed room. I then started home. I was a little outside of Rochester when I looked in my rearview mirror and saw fireworks going off. I found a place to pull over on the road and got out and watched the fireworks. While this was along Highway 14, I swear I didn’t see another car for the time the fireworks were going off. For about 20 minutes or more, it was just me and the sparking lights in the sky.

As a reporter, there’s been many amazing moments going out and covering how others celebrate July 4th. There have been parades watching families enjoy the different floats. There have been times seeing parents helping their children get candy from people handing candy out at parades. The fireworks have been fun. As I’m taking photos, I’ll hear excited children shout out how incredible one firework was and other times, I’ll hear an actual chorus of ooohs and aaahhs.

However you celebrate the holiday, have a happy and safe Fourth of July.



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