What does the 4th of July mean to me??

Beyond the Declaration of Independence and stating the obvious reasons...

The Fourth means family, food, fun, friends, parades and fireworks. Ever since I have lived in the glorious state of Ohio the Fourth means desperation and longing. The celebration of our freedom in Ohio pales by comparison to back home in Wisconsin.

While growing up I danced for 7 years doing jazz, tap and ballet. The dance studio I was a member of used to be in our annual parade. So all of the kids of the studio would participate in the parade. We would walk the 4 miles and dance intermittently. It was a lot of fun. To see the spectators sitting on tree lawns waving and clapping. I then fell tired of dancing and moved on...

I picked up playing an instrument in middle school and quickly became the proverbial "band geek". I started to play the clarinet then was asked to play the oboe. I was asked to be a member of a marching band locally for children my age. It was a summer gig and would bring me closer with others within the several schools in my community. It became a quick obsession of mine. I enjoyed going to the practices and the discipline involved. I was a member of the Racine Lighthouse Brigade both Junior and Senior depending on which grade I was in. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. We did several parades from May through August. It was so much fun. We traveled through South Eastern Wisconsin and participated in many competitions and did pretty well. I played my oboe for concert competitions and my clarinet while marching.

In our hometown parade when we would march for Memorial Day and the 4th of July. Heel-to-toe, in straight lines, keeping on the same foot to maintain uniformity as a group. We recieved standing ovations, cheers, whistling and clapping and it boosted our egos. It made us feel like we made a difference. Marching became part of my own Americana.

Now that I am "old" I can't be in a marching band or dance. There aren't any parades in Ohio that I have heard about in my 7 years of residing here. I long for those days... I want to lay blankets down on the grass sit and sweat to "death" from the heat. See the floats, Miss whatever city I live in, local bands, marching bands, our first responder vehicles, and etc.

After the parade we'd either stop at a friends house along the parade course and eat drink and be merry. Or we would go home take a nap and cook out beer brats, hamburgers, hot dogs, corn and all of the side dishes you can think of.

Once we were done cooking out we would unbutton our shorts and relax until dusk. We would head down to the waterfront and find a rock on the breakwater, blanket on the grass, or sit on the hood of our cars. Those were my days of summer. You could smell the 4th of July. And that is my smell of home during the summer.

Living here, in the Cleveland area, has been bland and depressing. I would love for my daughter to experience the 4th of July the way I used too...

I will continue my annual search to find something to give me the feeling semi-close to come without having to go back as I would love to create my own traditions in my new home state.

That is now my mission... To make our own holiday traditions with what is offered to me here. Wish me luck!