What’s your favorite holiday?
For me, it’s pretty simple.
I like Independence Day best.
As a kid it was my favorite. It was the middle of summer six or seven weeks from the end of school and six or seven weeks until the start of two-a-day football practices.
When I played Little League baseball, it marked the half-way point of the season, the all-star game between the best players of the American League (South Park) and National League (Heise Park).
Yep, at that time — before North Electric’s move to Tennessee and the decline of Galion’s manufacturing base — there were two Little League leagues in Galion. That’s how many kids played. And the all-star game resulted in a standing-room-only crowd at the Little League field.
I think we 16 teams in each and at the end of the season we had a playoff to decide the top Little League team in Galion.
Those were the good old days.
As an adult, the Fourth of July is just as special, but for a different reason.
The older I get, the more family means to me.
There is typically a big cookout at the Kent compound on Summit Street. Most of the brothers and sisters and their kids — and my dog and I — join the party. There is a lot of food and fun and chatter. There is a pool to swim in and for a good part of my life there has been a Pickle Run Festival.
When the old people got tired of the kids running around, we sent them to Pickle Run to ride some rides or play some games or just to walk around for a bit. And us old guys relaxed, or cracked open a beer or three.
We eat dinner about 6 p.m. and there is always too much food. Like my mother, I’ve come to the conclusion there is nothing worse than running out of food during a celebration. We have enough food to feed others who stop by for a visit during the celebration.
About 7 p.m., Heise Park starts to fill up for the coming fireworks show, that nowadays are shot off about 100 yards from my dad’s deck.
By 8 p.m. the car and foot traffic in our area is quite heavy. But that’s OK. Most of the same people have been walking by for years and we know each others’ faces, if not all the names. Friends from all over Galion stop by and we chat for a little while before they head a little closer to the fireworks.
Yes, we live close to Heise Park, so we are able to watch the fireworks from a deck or two, or our back yard — or for some of the more daring and younger family members, — from the top of one of my dad’s house. The kids wear glow-in-the-dark bracelets or necklaces., which reminds me. I need to go shopping.
The display usually starts around 10 p.m. and lasts for maybe 30 minutes. It’s not the largest display in Ohio, but it is my favorite, because I can watch it at home … with family and friends.
And after the fireworks end, even more people fill the streets and alleys on our end of the park. While cleaning up, we do a little more visiting as we say our good-byes to family and chat a little more with friends.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.