Monday, July 04, 2022

Shine Sweet Freedom

Began my 4th of July with material from Colliers Harvest of Holidays. The longer piece has Pa Ingalls taking Carrie and Laura to the small Independence Day celebration at the Little Town on the Prairie. They enjoy lemonade from a barrel, are given fireworks by an enterprising local politician, and watch their friend Alonzo win the local horse & buggy race. They also had The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and several shorter patriotic poems. Threw in a chapter from my coffee-table history photo book Summer In America about how the US has celebrated the 4th of July and Juneteenth through the years. 

Had a quick breakfast, then headed off to work. I wasn't in the register for more than five minutes before they pulled me to sweep and do carts. Fine by me. It was too nice of a 4th to be inside all day, anyway. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and despite the upper 80's-lower 90's heat, it was breezy and dry. I wasn't terribly happy when they pulled me around 2 to take long lines. Thankfully, I was back out again gathering carts that kept disappearing within a half-hour when a manager came in for me. This time, I got out with no trouble whatsoever. 

Spent the next few hours watching patriotic cartoons, changing, and having dinner. "Patriotic Popeye" warns his nephews to stay safely away from firecrackers, but they keep coming up with ways to distract their uncle and get to his stash. They finally get the message when a rocket goes off and takes them with it, and their uncle needs spinach to get them down.

The Mickey Mouse Works short "Donald's Failed Fourth" has Daisy telling Donald to find them the perfect spot to watch the fireworks. He does find a terrific place...but first the blanket, then the folding chairs, won't cooperate.

Yankee Doodle Cricket is one of two Chuck Jones animated sequels to A Cricket In Times Square. After reading a book on "Oddities In American History," Tucker the Mouse insists to his friend Harry the Cat that Tucker's ancestor wrote the Declaration of Independence and created the country's first flag, Harry's got Paul Revere's horse moving, and Chester Cricket's wrote "Yankee Doodle."

Bugs is a "Bunker Hill Bunny" who won't give up his fort to Hessian soldier Yosemite Sam. They (literally) trade cannon fire and forts for a while, before Bugs finally finds an explosive way to show Sam how important American independence is. 

The Walter Lanz Studio takes us to some "Hysterical Highspots in American History" through 1940. Columbus wonders why cartoons haven't been invented, a Native American proves to be an extremely convincing salesman, and a pair of enterprising old maids spend two different (and long-apart) wars trying to lure soldiers to their home.

Finally headed out around quarter of 7. I wanted to get ice cream at Yummies Palace, but they were closed for the holiday. Nothing was open on West Clinton Avenue, not even Tonewood Brewery or the Oaklyn Manor Bar. Hiked over to a very busy WaWa instead for a black and white milkshake. 

Next stop was Dollar General, which is always opened for the holiday. Needed to restock my electrolyte drink mix. They were out of their generic watermelon mix, but I did find their lemon-lime, along with Gatorade White Cherry and Propel Strawberry-Kiwi. Also picked up snacks for the week, including nuts and coconut macaroons. Didn't know Powerade made their own electrolyte water ala Propel. Bought a bottle of that, too, for the fireworks. 

The sun wasn't even going down yet when I strolled down the White Horse Pike, over the causeway, and into Newton Lake Park. Collingswood's fireworks are actually set off at their high school football field, but I didn't really feel like hiking all the way down there and back. I spread my checked blanket out on the grassy area in front of the playground, directly across from the main building of The Parkview apartments. Finished reading Johnny Tremain while listening to the families around me play with light-up balls, blow bubbles into the rapidly-darkening sky, and sing along with the rap blasting from someone's car. One Indian family even brought along their bent, frail old grandmother in an equally frail sari the color of old paper. 

The wizened older lady no sooner sat down on her grandchildren's towel than a huge burst of pink and gold sparkles lit up the night! The fireworks at Collingswood are always gorgeous, and this year is no exception. Booming glitter in every color of the rainbow shot across the horizon over the park. I love the ones that make shapes, the red rings and off-center hearts, and the big ones that shoot into the air, then snake around in every color possible. 

Started out the second the last firework shot into the darkness. Thank heavens I don't have to cross the street to get home anymore. The traffic on the White Horse Pike was awful as I made my way down the sidewalk. It was actually pretty busy on East Haddon Avenue too as cars and people tried to avoid the mess on the main roads. 

Finished the night on YouTube after the Match Game '73 premieres with vintage Disney parades from the early 90's. Robert Gulliame and Connie Selleca host a heavily revamped Great American Celebration in 1991. I know I saw this on 4th of July evening as a 12-year-old. I definitely remember then-white-hot Tevin Campbell singing "Shine Sweet Freedom" with hundreds of dancers in the opening. We actually get some parade footage this time, too, including a huge float honoring the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights at Disneyland and shots of the Main Street Electrical Parade in Walt Disney World. 

Country group Kentucky Headhunters was the winner among the bands. Their rousing version of "Spirit In the Sky" was so awesome, I may have to look up their albums. My sisters were huge fans of the Mickey Mouse Club group The Party. In fact, we probably watched this in '91 to hear their "Peace, Love, and Understanding." We also get an early glimpse of Tim Allen's stand-up act, just prior to Home Improvement, along with footage of Selleca freaking out on all four Disney "mountain" roller coasters (Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Matterhorn, and what was then known as Splash Mountain). Allen was definitely funnier than Steve Banks, whose goofy portrayals of Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson were more annoying than amusing.

The focus returned to the music in '92. How early 90's was Celebrate the Spirit: Disney's All-Star Fourth of July Spectacular? It opened with Billy Ray Cyrus singing that everlasting ear worm "Achy Breaky Heart" and youthful rap duo Kriss Kross getting down with their major hit "Jump." We only have one host this time, John Ritter, who surprisingly takes a backseat to the music and the two little girls who spend the special looking for Goofy in Disneyland. Goofy's too busy watching bits of his shorts to pay attention to the big parade focused on him and the debut of Goof Troop. Other musical winners here included Shanice with her charming "I Love Your Smile" and Mary Chapin Carpenter with "I Feel Lucky." 

(Incidentally, there's so much emphasis on the music and Goofy, the '92 parade is the only one to not end with a huge patriotic number in front of the American Adventure in Epcot or one of the castles.)

Both specials featured profiles of average Americans whose volunteering helped their communities via George W. Bush's "Profiles of Light" program. One group, a pair of phys ed teachers who trained boys off the street into a top acrobat group, actually performed at Epcot in '92. There were at least two families, one elderly, who took in foundlings off the street, and a five-year-old boy who collected money for the poor, including his own pennies.

If you missed your hometown parade like I did or remember watching these as a kid too, you'll probably find much to enjoy in these patriotic blasts from the past!

And here's hoping you had an equally fun 4th of July (and that our neighbors to the north enjoyed their Canada Day on Friday)! 

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