When I realized that Revolutionary War battles were fought on the same ground that I walked every day, and seeing the Statue of Liberty every time I took the subway over the Manhattan Bridge into Chinatown, Independence Day took on a new meaning. To celebrate, I liked to stroll through Prospect Park where General Sullivan battled the British back while George Washington escaped across the East River into Manhattan.
The park streets are closed to traffic on holidays and weekends and instead are filled with bike riders (some of them travelling at Tour de France speed), as well as families with kids and strollers. Some people liked to get out on the lake in paddle boats and canoes. Some fished from the lakeshore – although I can’t imagine eating anything out of that lake. The Prospect Park drum circle was active. Extended families and their friends from all over Brooklyn arrived with barbecues and cooked from morning till the park closed at dusk.
Down at Coney Island, the birth of our country is celebrated each year with the Nathan’s Hotdog Eating Championship. The winners generally eat over 60 dogs, which is difficult to imagine unless you actually see it happen. Hotdog eaters have to qualify to enter. There are 12 cities around the country that have preliminary contests (mostly in June) and those winners go to New York for the national championship. It’s a big deal. There’s even a Hall of Fame.
Starting a bit before 10 pm, for the second year, there’s a fireworks display at Coney Island specially for 4th of July (there are regular fireworks displays every Friday on the beach at Coney Island during the summer, which is a great treat if you happen to be at Cyclone’s Stadium for a ballgame). But I preferred to stand on the window seat in my apartment and watch the fireworks launched over the East River.
After the major (and legal) displays, fireworks continued to go off in the neighborhood until the early morning hours. Some of them were possibly cars backfiring and some possibly gunshots judging by the constant sirens during the night. But eventually, about 3 am, things got quiet enough to sleep.
post by Alana Cash