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Bored on the Fourth of July

Ryan Hoffman
rhoffman@citizentelegram.com

The past year has changed the way I think about holidays.

Perhaps it’s the solitude, or maybe age, but those national days of celebration — days when I say I’m not going to work at all, but inevitably do — lead me to reflect less on what the particular holiday means to me, or what it is supposed to mean, and more on how I’ve celebrated over the course of life. Last week was no different.

As a child, the Fourth was the holiday when neighbors would come over for a big backyard grill out, and us kids would anxiously wait to get our hands on the assortment of “fireworks” that the less conservative parents had bought. With age, the smoke-bombs and sparklers eventually turned into Roman candles and bottle-rockets. Larger, louder, brighter celebratory explosives shot into the sky throughout my suburban Cincinnati neighborhood.

In high school, the Fourth was a time for teenage parties at the home of naive parents who left their home unguarded. In our defense, we were pretty good a cleaning up after ourselves … most of the time.

College was all about barbecues, adult beverages and concerts followed by fireworks. While those years are filled with found memories — Peter Frampton certainly did not disappoint — the “grand” firework displays that were hyped up every year held fading appeal.

How much more amazing could this year be than the last? Has firework technology really advanced that much in the past 12 months? More so than anything else in recent years, fireworks represented the point in the evening when I hatched my exit plan in an attempt to beat the suffocating congestion of traffic.

That was the memory crawling through my mind as I drove back to Rifle Friday evening after speeding down Interstate 70 to investigate, or at least try to investigate, a crash outside of Glenwood Springs — that whole work is inevitable line I mentioned.

In all this recollection, I was unable to tap into the childhood nostalgia of those early fireworks. While the display that evening in downtown Rifle was fine, the simple fact is the booms and glowing chemicals do not impress me, no matter how grand.

What impressed me was the crowd that night. In talking with some of them, I heard how wonderful it is that Rifle still, when conditions permit, hosts a fun and impressive event celebrating this patriotic holiday — especially considering that some neighboring communities have abandoned such celebrations.

Coming from southwest Ohio, I never worried about wildfires or stringent rules dictating what could and could not be set on fire. In admitting my ignorance, I won’t pretend to be wowed by the fireworks that evening because I don’t need to. The turnout that night did just fine.

Ryan Hoffman is editor of The Citizen Telegram. He can be reached at 970-685-2103 or rhoffman@citizentelegram.com.


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