Celebrating July 4th a neighborhood tradition

If you’re someone who appreciates the Fourth of July holiday as much as I do, you know your reasons for it being such a special day.

For me, I always remember first that it was on this day back in 1776 when our country adopted the Declaration of Independence. So, when I see all the red, white and blue on this day it reminds me what a great country we have and how much we should treasure our independence and freedom.

But on a more local grass roots level, I have come to appreciate the Fourth of July in a way that I never did before moving to Camas back in 1991. July 4 has long been the day that our neighborhood gets together to socialize, eat, quench our thirsts, play games, listen to live music or experience good (and sometimes not-so-good) karaoke.

And of course, like thousands of other neighborhoods in Washington, we discharge fireworks, smack in the middle of our neighborhood streets and cul-de-sacs, right up to the stroke of midnight. This year will be the 12th consecutive year our neighborhood has gotten together to celebrate the 4th.

Now personally, I’m not a huge fan of fireworks. Sure, I think they’re pretty amazing to watch when they are going off hundreds of feet above you. And I like the fact that they are the culmination of our day long neighborhood party that starts in the early afternoon each year on the 4th.

That’s when the barbecues fire up and our little corner of the world becomes a smorgasbord of delicious aromas wafting through the air. Tables and chairs soon come out of the garages and onto the driveways. By late afternoon, the sampling of each other’s grilled specialties begins and lasts well after the dinner hour.

After dinner the music kicks in and our neighborhood becomes this amazingly patient group of folks that tolerates just about any taped music, live band or karaoke. The karaoke can truly test one’s patience, but it’s actually improved a little in recent years, thanks to the kids taking over for the adults.

The grand finale of course is the fireworks, just before dusk. I am amazed every year at the power, volume and sheer abundance of fireworks that our little neighborhood pumps out. Children line the street in chairs with their parents behind them and cheer at each new explosion in the night sky.

Finally, just around midnight the fireworks end, and the nighttime cleanup begins. The next morning’s daytime cleanup mops up what couldn’t be seen the night before.

As I mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of fireworks. They can be dangerous if not used in a safe manner. I know they frighten some older adults and terrify many pets. And goodness knows they are very expensive.

But there are folks who are very considerate of their neighbors and pets and use them in a safe, responsible way to produce real enjoyment and neighborhood camaraderie. I’m happy that folks in our little corner of Camas fall into that safe and sane category.

Mike Gallagher can be reached by e-mail at mike.gallagher@camaspostrecord.com