Hello Again! I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoyed Krista’s post on Opening Night traditions. Openings (and other celebrations like them) are often some of the most memorable parts of a summer spent at the Festival. Thinking about traditions and celebrating got me thinking about this weekend, which is of course, the Fourth of July!
I’ve always loved the Fourth of July, since I was a child growing up in Florida and my parents would take me up to the Indian River Bridge (the highest point in the town) to watch the fireworks (launched from a boat on the Intercoastal). You had to get there hours in advance, and you would get eaten alive by mosquitoes, but the anticipation was infectious. Hundreds of people leaning on the railing or lighting sparklers, looking down into the water and singing along to the distant blaring radios of parked cars — that’s what a holiday feels like to me.
Since I moved to Vermont in 2009, I have spent all save one Fourth here in Dorset. I wake up, dress in my patriotic finest, get a hot dog from the Dorset Union Store and maybe take a dip in the quarry, then see what the day has store. Vermont on the Fourth looks the way Independence Day celebrations look in movies: big blue sky and green fields, beautiful white farmhouses with flags waving. It’s a postcard. And the fireworks display does not disappoint. I have always said that the mark of a great fireworks show is that you feel like you’re watching the grand finale at least twice before it actually happens, and I get tricked every year in Manchester.
There was one year (those of you who are local may recall it) that the weather report said it might rain, but the powers that be decided to go ahead with the fireworks anyway. A couple of cars worth of staff and interns drove down and found some parking in a small lot across Route 30. We hiked across several fields to the baseball stadium, thinking we were being clever by taking refuge in the covered bleachers (in case it rained). We waited. And waited. And waited some more. And then, all of a sudden, the sky opened up.
There were visible sheets of rain, blowing down and sideways and every which way, in what ominous weathermen like to call “gale force winds”. I was disappointed that the fireworks had been precluded but as a native Floridian, I love a good storm. I settled in with everyone to watch, before almost immediately being told (by very official looking teenagers in tye-died shirts) that everyone had to leave the field and return to their vehicles (but without crossing the actual field, because of the lightning). So we marched, in a crowd, around 200 strong, into the storm (the long way). People hurried at first, eager to get out of the rain, but in 20 seconds, everyone was soaked to the bone, so we walked in a big, wet, shockingly happy clump. A couple hundred soaking wet Americans, laughing and shrieking, singing God Bless America and watching the best fireworks that nature has to offer.
Another year our good friend Tim Daly (who was in the middle of a run of The Scene) hosted a Fourth of July party at his beautiful home. There was food, and some friendly cows, and a swimming pool with a view of the mountains. Last year, we had no performance on the Fourth of July, so we had a big Olympics-themed staff party where company members formed teams and competed in various lawn games for everlasting glory.
This year, we do have a special Fourth of July performance of Intimate Apparel, with hot dogs and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream before the show. I’m very excited to make some new memories with our wonderful 2015 company, and this incredible show (a play deeply rooted in the American mythos). I also can’t wait for the fireworks. It’s this time of year, the anticipation leading up to the Fourth that I remember what it felt like to be a little girl, standing high above her hometown, staring into the sky, sharing excitement with an entire nation. Happy Birthday America!