And thus, the masses will descend, because it is the 4th of July holiday weekend... sounds Biblical, right? Hordes of locusts, consumption of manna from heaven – it’s like the verse from the Old Testament, except, I’m talking about the City Beautiful (and, er, yeah, no 4th of July back then – just trying to be darned witty, and failing...). There’s a difference, of course, between visiting Storm Lake for a 4th of July celebration, and living here during it.
Oh, it gets downright wacky – city population doubles practically, everyone is in search of the perfect turkey filet, egg roll, or pork burger. And we observe our freedoms through ceremony, paying respect to the great life we should have, in the United States, but those who helped defend it, in history. Yet, the 4th of July can seem like one, long party that technically gets going days before, and ends, really, days thereafter.
Concerts beforehand, and during our observation, vendors coming into town for Artist’s Alley, and to cook food for the masses, “The Parade” (which, in quotes, is appropo – it’s like describing the Super Bowl, I mean, it’s an entity unto itself), family coming in and camping out wherever they can. Food, drinks, more food, drinks, later on, more food and drinks (I think I mentioned food and drinks – oh yes, I did, whew). And if you have a home on, or anywhere near the lake, it’s The Magnet. What is The Magnet, Herr Doctor? Glad you asked – it’s my own theory, and happy to pass it on.
The Magnet involves, in conception, a semi-scientific theory that if you present the basic food/good time pyramid to people, they will be drawn to the pyramid like flies to fly sticky tape. Well, it’s obvious, but it’s a way to take up column space with utterly useless information, you know? The Magnet can also be gathering place, where the masses descend to partake in the food pyramid (you can throw beer in there, as well as the craft cocktail varieties). Our home is on Lakeshore Drive, and it is in The Magnet Zone, for many reasons. Our family is the size of Job, the “Tonight Show” audience on a Friday night, and the population of Peru – yes, combined (I did do the research on the alternative facts website, on the alternative web)!
The 4th is the first biggest holiday for our family – everyone pretty much plans their calendar around this time frame, and if not, they are there in spirit. The 4th is also when some buddies of ours, unknown by name or identification, show up with a throng of people to camp out on our front lawn for the parade. Everyone has such a good time, they invite themselves back every year – it’s magical, I tell you. I think that was in the fine print when we signed our loan agreement to the house, accommodating hordes of people on the 4th of July on your front lawn. It’s all good – part and parcel of being on the parade route. It’s kind of like sign-and-drive, with the fine print that starts off with, oh, by the way...
The Magnet Theory also involves friends, and family, stopping by for libations and such, over the course of the day, as they are welcome to. They hang out in all manner, patio and lawn.
I must mention one year, after the parade had run it’s course, one guy and his family found a spot near the edge of our front lawn, near the demilitarized zone, which starts right about the point when people you don’t know encroach on that personal space on your property. Being the polite sort before my antenna goes up, I kept checking up on him. One hour, two hours, three hours... this guy and his crew weren’t moving, but they were enjoying the view. It almost felt like a ‘Senfield’ routine where, yes, nothing happens, but it still bugs you. Finally, FINALLY, okay honey, let’s go, and off then went, westward in search of food not found in nature. Other than that little twist, we enjoy people stopping by for a cold one, and some quick conversation.
Storm Lake is a natural magnet, anyway, for the 4th of July – I do remember when I was on the visitor’s side of the fence, enjoying the good, old-fashioned down home nature of things. We were living in cities bigger than Andre the Giant at the time – Dallas, Atlanta, Columbus, Ohio – so heading back home for a brief respite was paramount in my book. So, even after being here at the seven year mark now, I still enjoy all the trappings the holiday brings.
Crazy? It can be, having so many people around. Exhausting? Yeah, that goes with crazy, but get some workouts in (and not just forearm lifts with a mug). At the end of the day, it’s all good, and it all works out. We clean up, call it good, and move on, knowing that we were able to celebrate another 4th of July. Amidst all the celebrations, it’s easy to forget why we do all this. To be with family and friends, yes, but to gorge ourselves, and over-medicate on substances? Not really, but it seems to go along with the territory.
The 4th of July is to remind ourselves, really, of the high cost of freedom, and our way of life. The Magnet just kind of comes along with the gig, and that’s part of the 4th, as well.