Memories of July 4 From Lake Sebasticook to Flagler Beach
FlaglerLive | July 4, 2012
All happy July Fourths resemble one another in the abstract: parades, heat, fireworks, USDA choice beef. Each first July Fourth memory is happy in its own way.
“I was a young kid,” remembered Jon Netts, Palm Coast’s mayor, moments before this morning’s city commemoration of July 4 at Heroes Park, “probably 4 years old. My parents had gone to Maine to a little old place called Lake Sebasticook, and it was rural America at its finest. Maine has always maintained its rural character. This was the epitome of Maine, small town, very homey, and I was just overtaken by the warmth. If you know anything about Maine being cold and stand-offish, these were the most wonderful people, and welcoming and just a great celebration. More food than you can shake a stick at. Patriotism just flowing. It was wonderful. I’m sure I had 4th of July before I was 4, but this was the first one I remember as an Independence Day celebration. It was just spectacular.”
Council member Bill McGuire’s memory is singed with a little more guns and ammo: “My grandpa was a World War I veteran. His heart was destroyed by gas in France in World War I. I remember sitting out in the front yard as a child of 6, watching grandpa whittle a toy gun for me while my uncle shot fireworks and my grandma made strawberry shortcakes.” This was in St. Louis, the Ardennes of the Middle West.
For beach-side memories made in Flagler County, there was Barbara Revels, the current chairman of the county commission, remembering her own awareness of July 4, a personal version of Independence Day: “It would be in Flagler Beach. It was how early my parents would let us come uptown by ourselves. Always wanted to be up here first thing and stay all day. Even though that was safe for kids to do then, I had to get older than probably 6 years old to be able to do that. In the summers we would spend the day at the beach by ourselves. There were dirt roads back there, there was nobody here. My grandfather’s house was here, so he was the watchdog every day.”
Here being the very corner where Revels stood this morning, where she now has her Coquina real estate office, but where, back then—in the 1970s—her grandfather’s house stood, or attempted to stand: from the looks of it (Revels showed three pictures handing on a bulletin board in the office) the building managed to defy gravity until its replacement was built in 1982. Revels spoke just before another epic Flagler Beach Independence Day parade that stretched for 75 minutes under a sun that could have fried a loose potato in sight.
Surely a few first Independence Day memories were formed today, or maybe even yesterday, since Palm Coast—in an effort not to step on Flagler Beach’s fuses—is choosing to launch its fireworks a day early, as it did Tuesday evening at Town Center to a sea of people (parking sprawled all the way to the hospital). The parade in Flagler Beach though stretched endlessly because roughly half the population of the county is running for election this year, and all those candidates were in the parade, with some—no need to name names, such as Don Fleming—managing to field convoys of cars for the cause.
The parade finally ended with an exclamation mark in sound and sight: following engines from the Palm Coast and Bunnell fire departments, there came the fire trucks of the Flagler Beach Fire Department, led by its beleaguered chief, and with one of the city commissioners, who doubles up as a volunteer firefighters, driving one of the department’s vehicles. That subplot is to be continued next Tuesday. One conspicuous absence: there were no wheels from Flagler County Fire Rescue.
The fireworks show go off tonight at 9 p.m. Meanwhile, a few images from the last 24 hours, beginning last night in Palm Coast, with a couple of shots from Steven Sobel of Steven Sobel Photography and from Joseph Delarosby, the Flagler County sheriff’s deputy (he was off last night) who wields a camera like a sharpshooter.
Independence Day Gallery
(For best viewing, click on an image, not on the slide show link.)