In Search of a Proper Northeast Ohio Fourth of July


I moved here last June so, while I technically spent last 4th of July in Cleveland, it was such a shitshow of a cluster of a day that I have decided that it does not count. My kid was feverish, snotty, and miserable. My husband was lying on the bathroom floor with a stomach full of angry acid, praying to vomit. I was taking care of both of them while trying to unpack and simultaneously convince Time Warner to send back the installation rep who had just left because I did not know, until that very moment, that my new home did not have a doorbell.

Sick kid, sick husband, no internet, no cable. It was a bad day. By the time the sun went down both of my boys were in bed and, since I had no internet/cable/joy to speak of, I began the task of painting my son’s bedroom. I poured all of my stress and anxiety into sanding down the terrible butterflies and flowers that had been hand-stamped haphazardly all over his bedroom walls by the previous owners. Like, it was as if the previous owners had gotten into a heated argument that was settled with a bet and the loser had to paint their kid’s bedroom and the paint job turned into a form of revenge. I painted and listened to fireworks being set off in the distance by happy people who I didn’t know. The only explosion I experienced in person was when I fell off the ladder and splashed paint on the floor.

But enough of that sad shit. This year is now, this year is new, and, as the Cavs have proven, this year will be different. This year I will finally experience a good old old-fashioned classic Northeast Ohio Fourth of July. A proper 4th of July that will involve: a hometown parade that’s 60% crepe paper and where you can tell that most of the people walking in it are regretting their decision to participate; grilled meats; mayonnaise-based salads; spending like $20 on a giant watermelon; fruit pies; ice cream; cold beer; the smell of sunblock; the smell of bug spray; the smell of sulfur from the fireworks from folks who couldn’t wait to set them off even though the sun is still up; a titch of heat stroke; brass bands; snapdragons; sparklers; kids laughing manically because they are up way past their bedtimes; a buzzing excitement as the sun finally, finally starts to go down; sparklers lighting up all over; and then BOOM. So many fireworks, high in the sky, all around, all at once, rocketing up and blasting apart and sending colorful, shimmering sparks to break up the dark of night.

That is the goal, and I’ve done my research to find the perfect 4th of July event. And I’ve found there are so, so many options. I can:

· Party with beer and jazz and cephalopods at the Cleveland Aquarium’s “Red White & Brew Fest.” (Scene's a partner in the event!)

· Take a cruise on the Goodtimes III where there’s sure to be fine dining, drinking, dancing, fireworks, and, in my case, seasickness

· Enjoy fireworks from the deck of the Steamship William G. Mather at the Great Lakes Science Center “Rock and Boom.” Bonus is that this ship does not actually move, which will really solve the seasickness problem

· Utilize the fancy ass picnic basket I got as a wedding present and go see the CSO at Blossom Music Center. Set up on the lawn, pour out some cheap pinot grigio, and hope against hope that they will actually fire off a cannon during the 1812 Overture.

· Go see a Youth Rock Orchestra perform just before the Lakewood Fourth of July Fireworks Show. I don’t know what music a Youth Rock Orchestra actually plays and part of me doesn’t want to find out for sure, because I am delighted imagining that it’s all Black Sabbath covers and I never want to be corrected.

· Spend the 4th celebrating the way our founding fathers intended – eating massive amounts of pork at the redundantly named “Akron Rib, White & Blue Rib Festival”

· Ride what I can only assume is a very patriotic zip line at the Berea “Grindstone Festival.”

It seems I could also throw a dart at a map of Northeast Ohio, drive to that town, and enjoy whatever 4th of July festival they will be holding that night. I still haven’t decided exactly what I’ll be doing but I know this for sure: the next day I will have eaten way too many hot dogs, I will have a painful sunburn, and I will have finally had a proper 4th of July. 
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