There was a time — up until last year, actually — that Garland was well known in the area for its extravagant, multi-day Star Spangled Fourth celebration. It used to be three days of festivities scattered over several venues, including the Old Downtown, and the city went all out to support it. As you may have gathered from my groans in several previous entries, however, those days are past. This year, the SSF was diminished to one location, one day: July 4 itself, at the sprawling shopping center called Firewheel on the north side of town, nearly in the neighboring city of Sachse. While I’ve made no bones about the fact that this annoys me — I used to own a business in that now-ignored Old Downtown — I guess I shouldn’t blame the city too much. They’re probably under a budgetary crunch in these days of $4 gas and mortgage meltdowns, and Firewheel has got to bring in substantially more tax money than the Old Downtown does. Heck, the Barnes and Noble alone probably does that.
Truth be told, the event wasn’t bad, though frankly it seemed a bit anemic compared to the SSFs I’ve previously attended. That may be due to the fact that it was spread out into such a large area; Firewheel’s not a mall as much as it is a faux town, with streets and everything, so there was plenty of lebensraum to spread into. I didn’t attend the whole day, naturally; the festivities started at 10 AM, and good Lord, it was hot last Friday! We’re definitely into the 90-degree weather we all know and love here in North Texas. But I was there by about 5:30, and stayed until the fireworks finished up at 10:15 or so. The celebration continued officially until midnight, but everyone and their brother — and I — tried to leave before the final boom finished echoing. Needless to say, we were stuck in traffic for an hour. But that’s neither here nor there.
The crowd was moderately thick when we got there, especially in the “Patriot Park” over at the north-central part of the shopping center. Take a look.
in Richardson back in May, except that there was no stinkin’ cover charge. (No, I’m not bitter. Okay, maybe a little.) Among other things, there was one of these, but then I’ve gotten used to seeing the damned things by now; they’re de rigueur. Which is not to say that you’ll ever see me trying to climb one, even were I as agile as a monkey.
I thought this kiddie bowling thing was kinda cute, though I’m not sure what it was for.
And here’s the Geico Gecko, in all his rubbery majesty.
Here’s something my group and I especially appreciated: free water from a local Democrat running for office. Can you guess who I’m voting for? This guy knew what he was doing, yep. Did I mention how hot it was?
Given that our brains soon started melting from the heat (or at least, that’s my excuse), we spent the hour between 8:00 and 9:00 grabbing dinner at a favorite restaurant out on the edges of the shopping center, as I’ve mentioned, and then headed back to the car to watch the fireworks. We’d parked in a spot that offered a good view, but I have to say that I was a tad annoyed that Time Machine, the musical act that preceded the fireworks display, finished up late. (Sorry guys.) Anyway, it didn’t start until about 9:45, but I have to admit it was ooooh- and aaaah-worthy. I just wish they’d turned off the floodlights in the parking lot. I didn’t get any good photos of the fireworks, but I did get several decent videos, from which I grabbed the series of screencaps pictured below. You’ll notice that most are washed out due to the lights and reflections off the gunpowder smoke (they popped a lotta rockets); but the last, which comes from near the beginning of the grand finale, is pretty good, if I do say so meself.
And a good time was had by all! I just wish I’d gone to see Kool and the Gang after the fireworks, instead of trying to get out of the parking lot right away; but hey, live and learn.
Needless to say, the Star Spangled Fourth celebration is over for the year, but it’s a city tradition, and will hopefully be back next year. It’s free to enter, so keep an eye on their website at http://www.starspangledfourth.com/ for the details, and come on down on the big day. No telling who’s showing up next year. Be sure to bring something to sit on if you want to attend the concerts.