R egular readers of this column might recall that one year ago, I wrote about my first-ever experience at watching the July 4 music and fireworks celebration at the York Fairgrounds (the Expo Center) up close and personal.
It's a celebration of Independence Day, of course.
And while I've watched the fireworks plenty of times over the years -- mostly during the years my children were growing up -- it was always from some distance, never on the fairgrounds itself.
That was always good enough for me.
But last year, I felt I needed to experience the entire Fourth of July deal -- the music, the recognition of veterans and the fireworks -- on the fairgrounds for a change. It's one of those things, like the Statue of Liberty, an ocean, Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon, for instance, that everyone should see at least once in their lives.
And was I ever glad I did. It was a terrific experience, start to finish.
I could not have been more pleased.
But this year, I wasn't so sure I needed to do it again. With the passage of time, some of the luster had worn off from last year, I guess. Like I said, I enjoy fireworks, but I don't have a passion for fireworks like some people do.
Same for parades, by the way.
Besides, it's a rather large crowd -- I'd guess somewhere around 10,000 to 15,000 people show up -- and I hate crowds. Plus it's a huge pain in the neck to get out of the fairgrounds once the fireworks are over.
It took me seven minutes to drive from my house to my parking space on the fairgrounds lot before the fireworks, but it took me 45 minutes to get home afterwards.
So the first few times I was asked about going again this year, I wasn't sure. But then it occurred to me that it was almost my civic duty to attend. I never served in the Armed Forces, so it seems the least I can do to show my appreciation for those who did serve is to join in on the July Fourth celebration.
Besides, my granddaughter, Ashlynn, wanted to go. She'd never seen the York fireworks up close and personal, either.
So I went.
And I'm very happy I did. Again.
Because this year, the fireworks display was even better than last year's. I didn't think that would be possible.
"Impressive" is the word I'll use, but it doesn't really describe it fully.
As I said last year, there's something magical about watching the fireworks so close -- right above our heads -- that sells it. The power of it all -- I literally could feel the percussion in my chest when some of the fireworks exploded. The lights, the colors, the beauty were enough to render me speechless.
But there was no point trying to talk anyway because no one could have heard a word I was saying. It was volume to the max.
I'm thinking the actual war experience, bombs bursting in air and all that, must have been very much like it -- the noise, the lights, the percussion.
What do they call it: "Shock and awe?"
That seems about right to me.
Again, it was an evening well spent.
And again, a big "thank you" to the Cultural Alliance of York County and a half-dozen corporate sponsors who made it all possible. It doesn't happen without their participation.
Same goes for the York Symphony Orchestra, the York Junior Symphony, the York Youth Symphony, the York Symphony Chorus and the featured soloists and live groups that participated in the musical portion of the celebration.
They made it an event to remember.
Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.