July 4th in Seattle / by Kevin Swantek

Back in the day the fireworks show at Lake Union was sponsored by Ivars, and was called the Fourth of Jul-Ivars festival. Ivars stopped sponsoring the fireworks show in 2009. During the following years, KIRO radio, and Dave Ross helped to fundraise for the subsequent fireworks shows. 2013 was the first year that SeaFair sponsored the Lake Union fireworks show. This year, individuals could watch the fireworks show from parks on both North and South Lake union.

 Walking route from Greenlake to Gas Works Park.

Walking route from Greenlake to Gas Works Park.

I began my walk from Greenlake down to Gas Works Park around 10:30 a.m., in order to meet friends in line, outside of the park. It was 45 minute walk, on a beautifully sunny Seattle Friday. On the way down to the park, I watched young home-owners feeding their bbq, with upside down bicycles were being worked on in the back yard, and ducks took shade in their side yard. The walk down also included witnessing brunches on patios, as well as home owners blocking off public parking spots in front of their own homes. 

I stood in line with my friends for 20 minutes before the park opened up at noon. When we found our spot, there was virtually no one else around. Like last year, as the day went on, the hill began to fill up. I was able to document the slow growth on my iphone.

I spent from Noon to 10:00 p.m. in Gas Works park, waiting for the fire works. What I was able to witness in that time was a range of territorialism, neighborly bonding, and human ingenuity.

Somewhere in the early afternoon a family that had set up their plot around us (at nearly the same time we did) ran into another feisty family that intruded just a little too inappropriately. As I witnessed the quarrel, another family came in and invaded on the staked out space. The argument began when the encroaching family left a dirty diaper on the already planted families' blanket. The argument quickly escalated in to a full-out physical altercation. One of the encroaching members directly challenged the mother of the already settled group. She told the mother to stand up. When the mother did, she almost immediately assaulted her. the ladies went to the ground very quickly. The husband of the planted family went to try and seperate the two when he was also accosted. The end of the fight was marked by a police presence that interviewed both parties. The family that actually started the physical altercation was forced to leave the park. Due to onforeseen after-effects of the fight, the original family had to leave the park with a medical escort. It was a mindless attack, escalated by both parties, and ultimately negatively impacted the fun.

To our left, an awesome family filled the space between us, and the fireworks. My friend (whom I've known since kindergarten) quickly bonded with them, and we were soon hanging out... almost as one group. It was a lot of fun, and I'm very happy that he took the time to chat up our neighbors. From that point on the day was pretty remarkable.

 Tug Boat Band on the Waterfront

Tug Boat Band on the Waterfront

In the early evening, a tug boat with two floating docks strapped to it, came up to Gas Works with a full band playing what sounded to me like New Orleans' jazz tunes. A dude danced in an american flag speedo, and another man lead the full band with his baton. The entire rig seemed a little strung together, and the Seattle Water Police quickly drove them away.

Sometime before 10 p.m. skydivers descended on lake union. Flares lighted their path through the night sky (before quickly burning out). As the sky divers descended they landed in the cold water of Lake Union.  Police boats quickly responded to pick up the parachutists.

Right before the fireworks went off, an unseen (yet, live) choir sang America the Beautiful, as well as the National Anthem. The songs that were to start the fireworks show went off on queue, only after a false start.

Once the fireworks started, and the music was booming across the park, I completely tuned out everything else. I just stood and watched the splendor. It is real life 3D, that the movies will never be able to duplicate. My pictures don't do justice to the fireworks show.

Exiting the park was like it ever was. The mass exodus is taxing. I could have walked home faster than the ride I accepted, but then I would have missed out on the experience we had leaving the Wallingford neighborhood. 

 Regan and Mark Christopher

Regan and Mark Christopher

Minus the fight, I had a great time the entire day. I took a picture of my friend with Mark Christopher from KTCS 9 Cook. It was one of the highlights of his day.

We literally got in to the car at 11 p.m. to drive home. We arrived at my doorstep around 12:10 p.m. That works out to a little more than 2.5 miles per hour. I felt like I was with good company, no matter the little struggles, I was perfectly happy.

The Seattle SeaFair Summer Fourth is pretty great overall. Anytime you get so many people in one place, there is going to be some antics, but otherwise it's good clean family fun. You have the opportunity to meet neighbors (you wouldn't necessarily get to meet), and just relax for an entire day.