There’s something to be said for small-town fireworks. And on the Fourth of July, that “something” was, “Ooh.” And, “Ahh.”
We watched the fireworks from what is quickly becoming my favorite place to see the night sky light up...on a pontoon boat on a small inland lake in northern Wisconsin.
Three times I’ve been a passenger as we slowly make our way over the glasslike water shortly after dusk, passing the silhouettes of the trees and buildings surrounding the lake as the last hues of pink and orange and salmon disappear from the sky.
And one of my favorite sights is even before the fireworks begin, as we move to join the armada of already anchored boats on the water’s surface, their guide lights identifying them, residents and visitors to the lake preparing to be bedazzled by the light show to celebrate the holiday.
This year we had to wait until about a half-hour after dusk, but I didn’t mind the wait, as others grew a bit impatient. I just soaked it all in, and stared at the brilliant moon disappearing behind the clouds, and then peeking back out again through a hole that seemed to be expertly positioned in the clouds just to give us one more view.
Part of the fun of being out on the pontoon boat is hearing the reactions of the handful of kids along for the show.
The “oohs” and “ahhs” aren’t the same if they’re not sprinkled in with one little girl’s reaction as she sees her first-ever fireworks display. She must have exclaimed, “A fiyah-wook!!” a couple dozen times as the sky lit up.
And no matter how excited I was to see them, I cannot duplicate the expression of a 4-year-old boy watching a colorful explosion in the sky and then screaming, “That was AWEsome!!”
I’ve seen some impressive fireworks displays in my years, from the days we’d spend all day on the beach in Two Rivers and then at night could see three sets of them going off down the lakeshore...from Two Rivers, Manitowoc, and, faintly, Sheboygan.
And Kohler has a great homey Americana feel to its celebration, with the Kiel band and just the right number of people in its small bowl-shaped park.
I don’t know if the small lakes in northern Wisconsin received a chunk of the stimulus package to spend on holiday celebrations, or what, but...the only display I’ve seen that was more impressive was on opening night of Summerfest a few years ago.
And that’s Milwaukee! To open the biggest musical celebration in the Midwest. Up Nort is most definitely not, um...Milwaukee.
This show had everything required for a spectacular display...the big explosions that seemed to fill the sky from top to bottom, the little fizzly ones that made curly, quirky patterns, a few good white-light boomers, plenty of static cling-sounding choices, and everything in between.
Plus the bonus of being right on the water, among so many other small boats.
At about three different times during the show, we thought it was coming to an end, and at one point I even said, “That’s the exclamation point on a great fireworks display!” But then...they kept going.
And my buddy a few seats away said, “No, Gregg. That was just a comma.”
How true, punctuationally speaking.
Because when the finale came...oh, we knew it! And it was AWEsome!!
So where’s the best place you’ve ever ooh-ed and ahh-ed?
“All architecture is great architecture
after sunset; perhaps architecture is really
a nocturnal art, like the art of fireworks.”
—Gilbert K. Chesterton