Hands down, Fairfield has the best fireworks. OK, I'm a little biased since this has been my hometown for nearly 30 years, but you have to admit that the money we spend on the show is worth it. (I know, this from someone who complains about town spending.)
I'm not alone in my thinking, though, because the Parks and Recreation Department estimates that more than 15,000 people watch the fireworks display on and around the town's beaches every year.
A woman with whom I used to work always boarded the family boat with her close friends and relatives every July 4, and rode out onto Long Island Sound a short distance. She invited me once, but I had to decline. Bobbing on the water makes me seasick. I'm a wimp, I know.
The most spectacular Fairfield show I saw -- and one I still vividly remember -- is the elaborate one for the town's 350th anniversary in 1989. The explosions were loud, large, long and luscious.
Here's hoping the committee organizing the town's 375th anniversary in 2014 is planning on doing the Fourth of July celebration in a similar big way.
When I was a kid, the Fourth of July, for me, really marked the beginning of summer vacation. But I never gave its true meaning any thought. The day was all about hot dogs, hamburgers, swimming, sparklers and fireworks. By the way, the Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1776, we declared independence from Britain. (Just thought I'd share what I've learned since I was a youngster.)
A few times, we watched the fireworks display when we lived in Norwalk from the porch roof of my sister's friend's house at Harborview, a private beach enclave. As a young child, I thought it was real cool to climb onto a roof. I can still feel the summer breeze coming off Long Island Sound.
Other years, we camped out at Shady or Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk for the day, then stayed to see the show. Come to think of it, what a long day that was for Mom and Dad.
One year, Mom read an item in the newspaper about a cruise from a marina down by Calf Pasture Beach to see the fireworks show.
She booked passage for us, thinking this would be the best way to see the pyrotechnics. We boarded the boat and rode slowly out onto the Sound. (This was before I became unseaworthy.) As darkness crept in, we waited patiently for the show to begin. Nothing. We waited some more. Nothing. We then saw one little spark of light off in the distance, then before long we motored back to shore. Still to this day, I have no idea what that was all about. Mom was sure we had the right night and were on the right cruise. We did have a lot of laughs, though, over that busted outing.
I remember one Fourth of July with just Mom, Dad and me (my siblings had long since left home for good) when they decided we would just travel the "shore road" -- which is a stretch from Saugatuck to Southport -- and see what we could see. We caught a glimpse of Westport's fireworks. I remember sitting on the stone wall at Nyala Farms catching the bursts through the trees. It was nice being just with Mom and Dad on a different kind of adventure.
When we moved to Weston, Mom and Dad latched onto the town's Family Fourth celebration. Landlocked towns are known for hosting these holiday gatherings. New Canaan has one at the bucolic Waveny Park that is considered "the" family event of the year in that town.
I accompanied Mom and Dad (and occasionally some extended family members) on a couple of Family Fourths. The whole town seemed to converge on the middle school property; families camped out on their blankets with their picnic food. At nightfall, the bombs burst in the air over the treetops. Where the embers fell, I haven't a clue.
One year, we left before the show was over because Dad didn't want to battle the traffic leaving the school grounds. What was up with that?
I've also watched fireworks displays from my front steps at my house.
Someone in neighboring Bridgeport shoots off the explosives in an area near Park Avenue (which is the best I can figure distance wise). They are pretty good and loud, but no doubt illegal.
And that brings me to the seasonal warning. Leave the fireworks to the experts.
Patricia A. Hines is a Fairfield writer, and her "Hines Sight" appears every other Friday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She also can be followed @patricia