I have always loved the Fourth of July. As a kid I remember my folks having this big huge cookout at our house with our family and relatives. We had an in-ground pool and so we would always hurry to get it ready in time for the fourth, but invariably it would always be somewhat chilly to swim. But, we still jumped in that water and swam all day, played bocce ball, horseshoes, lawn darts, ate lots of food and looked forward to the fireworks in the evening. We lived close to a local park that had one of the best displays around, so we would all head down to Brooklyn Hts. park in the evening, sometimes even hauling our winter jackets and mittens with us. Carrying blankets, sparklers, mosquito chasers (we called them punks), hot chocolate and coffee it looked like a parade as everyone headed to grab a seat. Afterwards, with the smell of fireworks in the air, (I still love that smell) we would head back home. Dad would throw hot dogs on the grill and Aunty Irene would make Hungarian coffee, basically the leftover coffee from the day and lots of milk heated up on the stove. We would sit for hours talking and sometimes even jumping back in the pool for a late night swim. I can still see my brother putting cherry bombs in the tree and running and laughing as we tried to out run the explosion. Of course, mom was always telling him to be careful!
As we all got married we still tried to carry on that tradition until our own families got older, we lived further away and everyone else got busy. But, Jon and I still tried to hold to some kind of fourth of July tradition with Justin and Brett. We would get together with friends, eat lots of food, finding somewhere to watch fireworks, etc. Now that our guys are married and living further away they too are developing their traditions. Brett and Heather head up to her folks cabin for the weekend with her family and Justin and Susie usually get together with their friends. For the last few years Jon and I have headed over to our friends, Brian and Sara’s, with several other great families, ate lots of food and watch a pretty good neighborhood display of fireworks set off in their cul-de- sac. So, this year since we’ve moved we weren’t quite sure what we were going to be doing. Little did we know what a big deal July 4th is in Monticello. When we returned from vacation we were told that “Progression”, our churches alternative worship experience, was going to march in the parade. T-shirts were being designed, we were going to hand out our special blend of coffee and we were trying to come up with some kind of float. And afterwards some of us were invited to another couples house for a celebration. So, our day began at 8:30 at the fairgrounds with stuffing ourselves at the Fireman’s breakfast. The parade began at 11:00 and there had to be about 150 entries in it!! It was a 2 mile parade route with probably 3000-4000 people sitting on blankets, chairs, church steps, front porches, in garages. It was an old fashioned small town July 4th that I’ve not ever experienced before! We had about 15 people from Progression that showed up to walk and we had an absolute blast. Of course, our local photographer was with us so you’ve got to check out the pictures of our fun. After the parade a bunch of us headed to Kim and Jeff’s where we ate ourselves silly, played corn toss, Wii (I stink at guitar hero and got knocked out in the boxing game), ate some more, played more corn toss, talked and just had a blast.
I think we’ve started a tradition here. We sure did miss spending the 4th with Justin & Susie and Brett and Heather and the rest of our family, but we are so blessed with our extended “family” here in Monticello!

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