We so appreciate the Baltimore Police who - by their presence everywhere - helped to make the Fourth of July Fireworks at the Inner Harbor a safe event. This morning I visited a Baltimore news website to read about the fireworks I attended last night...as I was curious as to whether anyone had estimated how many people were there. But all I saw was the bad news of the day, no mention of last night's fireworks so far. So I decided I would blog some good news about last night, however few people may read it.
By 9:30 p.m., the sidewalks were so crowded, you could hardly move. Crowds scare me for a lot of reasons...the din, the uncomfortable possibilities, my being a bit claustrophobic. Were it only up to me, I might have just stayed in my comfort zone at home. But for my family, I went. And I was glad I did!
We arrived around 6:30 p.m. and parked in a garage that was labeled (gasp) "$20 all night". We decided to eat the cost rather than have to walk the distance to the garage my husband's company uses...and especially to have to walk back there again, late at night and tired.
As we walked along the harbor, we discussed where to eat. Five Guys, Cheesecake Factory, Subway? Our quietest son, who usually defers to the rest of us, spoke up that he would prefer to eat at Subway. So we all decided that Subway it would be, and we headed to the appropriate mall. I was secretly happy that Subway would be the best for our budget too.
As we entered the thronged food court, we found a plethora of policemen and policewomen eating their Subway dinners. But they had already ordered and we were able to order our food right away...however, finding a place to eat was another matter. We walked all around the food court, circling the interior of the mall. People were seated everywhere, and people were walking and standing just about everywhere, too. I was glad we had food in bags rather than on trays. We finally found ourselves back at the Subway area, where the policemen had just finished eating - standing up to an empty counter. We ate there as they had, standing. At least it gave us a place to put our food, and space to breathe.
While we ate, and while - since I don't eat as much at a time as my guys do - I waited for them to finish theirs, I watched the people...and I soaked in the atmosphere. It was a happy, family-party type atmosphere. Not everyone there was with family but - crazy as it sounds - I felt like we were all one big family...as, of course, we really are...you know?
Outside, we found a place on the grass to sit, wishing we had brought a blanket. I usually say that I "don't do" sitting on the ground, but I found out that I do. It's funny what you do when you have certain choices (like stand for two hours? No thanks.). I just needed to keep changing position, and occasionally standing up to stretch, and it worked just fine.
Watching the crowds walk by was better than watching a movie. The diversity particularly fascinated me. Not only was it racially diverse: black, white, Hispanic, Jewish, Asian, Middle Eastern...sorry if I left anyone out. But the diversity seemed to be of local origin as well as national and international. There seemed to be city people and country people, rich people and poor people...and, of course, everyone in between. There were dreadlocks and there were mohawks, and there were tattoos, and there were designer clothing and semi-professional garb. There was even the occasional evening gown (on their way to the cruise on the bay?). There was a woman in the poorest of clothing, with a black garbage bag slung over her shoulder (all her earthly belongings?), and I saw a few other men and women who looked similarly. I prayed for them, but I also rejoiced with them that they could enjoy not only this great entertainment, but also this big "family" gathering.
I saw a little girl, maybe two years old, riding on her father's shoulders, bouncing and dancing joyfully to the rhythm of the live band, as he danced to the rhythm while he walked. I saw a woman with a white cane and numerous people in wheel chairs. We saw two little girls in blond ponytails, looking identical from the back except that one looked taller than the other - until you realized it was because one was on the shoulders of someone taller than the person carrying the other girl.
And everywhere, we saw the policemen and women, mingling, walking in twos, sometimes gathering in small groups and then splitting up and walking on again, sometimes even text-messaging as they walked along, it seemed. Whatever they were doing, wherever they were, they were there, just quietly present.
The crowds had milled by endlessly, like a river; the band had played its lively, upbeat music for a long time; and the clouds had looked down on us and thought awhile and dropped a tear of longing to be with us, and then decided to keep their moisture in the sky. We had touched bases with each of our long-distance kids by cell phone. We had wiggled and stretched, and chatted and laughed. And finally it came time for the fireworks. The band continued to play, mingled with the happy sounds of the crowd. The only song I really heard after that was "Proud to be an American" - and I was.
Out in the bay, but off at some distance to our right, the show began. Very pretty. But I was a little disappointed at how far away the display was. Weren't they going to have them in the bay in front of us? And then - all of a sudden! - fireworks shot up high and bright and loud, right across from us, and there was a collective gasp of appreciation. After that it was a three ring circus of entertainment, as the ones off to the right would go up...very pretty...and as far away as they were, they yet reflected on the glass sides of the tall office buildings in the harbor, adding another dimension of beauty. Before a set of fireworks from the right had finished, the ones in front of us would shoot up...astoundingly forming fountains and flowers in sustained beauty and depth. Truly moved, I thanked God for the wonders He has given to man to use, for the beauty that He allows us to create. And thank you, God, for the love and joy that I felt there, that so many of your people could come together in peace.