Sunday, July 06, 2014

Independence Day in Chapel Hill

So, it used to be that whenever we did something interesting and/or different, while I was doing it I would also be thinking about how I was going to blog about it, and would be taking pictures along the way. But priorities have changed, I guess. (In other words, having children with you diverts one's attention from how one might document a certain experience after the fact. Except when it comes to playgrounds, apparently.) Because when we went to see Fourth of July fireworks in Chapel Hill last weekend, I didn't take a single picture, even though picture taking is far more important in today's internet age than it was six or seven years ago. Do people still read words on the internet anymore, or is it all about Instagram nowadays?

Out of my nine summers living in North Carolina, I've only stayed in town for the Fourth on I think three of them. And we've never gone to the same fireworks show twice: we did Clayton once and Fuquay-Varina another time. This year, we gave Chapel Hill a visit on the Fourth. Anything to avoid the crowds of downtown Raleigh and downtown Durham, although Chapel Hill probably wasn't any better in terms of crowds, it turned out...

Chapel Hill does its fireworks show in the UNC football stadium (Kenan Stadium), which is interesting. What is it like to watch fireworks inside of a football stadium? Well, you sit in a grandstand instead of on a blanket in the grass; whether that's better or not depends on personal preference. (I kind of liked watching fireworks this way, but Amber prefers laying out on the grass. A traditional park setting is also a lot more kid-friendly, of course.)

I thought they would shoot off the fireworks from just outside the stadium, but nope - the fireworks were fired from inside the stadium, on the opposite side from where everyone was sitting, of course. But you're still pretty close to the fireworks: you can see them being fired off from the ground (which I liked), and you get a neat echo in the stadium when they explode (which I also liked). But, depending on which way the wind was blowing, everyone may end up with a bunch of ashes in their lap at the end of the show (which is exactly what happened).

One important factor when it comes to fireworks shows for us is the crowd, and the traffic jam leaving the place afterwards. I'll just say this: Chapel Hill was a lot more crowded than I thought it would be (pretty dumb on my part, really), and getting out of the parking garage afterwards took longer than I would have liked. (It's a 15 minute drive to Chapel Hill for us, and after the show ended it took a little over an hour for us to get home.) So, we won't be doing the Chapel Hill fireworks show again. When it comes to choosing a fireworks show, and there are a lot to choose from around here, it's all about striking the best balance between "how good the fireworks show is" and "how crowded it is". We're willing to sacrifice fireworks quality for a less crowded event, more so than most people would, I suspect.

What did Marla think of the fireworks? They were too loud, but once Mommy covered her ears, I think she at least tolerated them, to the point that we'd take her to another fireworks show. Except that after staying up four hours past her bedtime, it took a full three days to get her sleep schedule back on track. (See, folks? This is why we rarely take Marla out at night. Even putting her to bed at 9 pm has its repercussions, but 11 pm? Good thing it was only the first day of a three day weekend.)

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