After Christmas, the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. We always celebrate at Gran and Grandpa’s house. They live on a river in a small town and there’s always a parade that passes right in front of their house.

We arrive early in the morning. My cousins are already there and my aunts and uncles, too. We have a lot to get ready.

My cousins and I ride in the bicycle parade, which comes before the big parade. I’ve spent the week decorating my bike. So have my cousins. I used red, white and blue crepe paper like always, but Clara decorated her bike with red, white and blue artificial flowers. It looks really cool.

We ride down Main Street ringing our bike bells and waving to people. Clara wins first prize for originality and gets $10! We park our bikes in front yard and get ready to watch the big parade. We sit in the grass. The grown–ups sit on lawn chairs.

We know the parade is coming when we hear band music. All the area high school marching bands are in the parade, but spaced out so the music doesn’t clash. Floats roll by and people throw candy to us. We scramble to pick it up. Veterans’ organizations march, and the Scouts.

All of us wave like crazy at the antique cars, but my favorite part is all the fire trucks.

When the last truck is out of sight, it’s time to eat. Gran has a few picnic tables in the back yard. Dad and Uncle Ray grill sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers. Gran and Grandpa carry huge bowls of potato salad, fruit salad, cole slaw, and macaroni salad from the house.

Every flavor of soda is on ice in a big plastic bin and it’s hard to choose. Orange? Cola? I decide on root beer. Clara grabs ginger ale.

After lunch we play games, fun outside games. The grown-ups usually play horseshoes. My cousins and I try croquet. We don’t know all the rules, but it’s fun to hit the croquet balls through the little hoops in the yard. I’m pretty good at it and I won a few games. At least by the rules we made up.

When we’re all tired out from playing, it’s time for Gran’s famous Fourth of July dessert— slices of homemade pound cake, piled high with fresh whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries. “More?” I ask but Mom shakes her head ‘no.’

“It’s very rich,” she whispers. “One is enough.”

It’s an awfully long time from dessert to fireworks. Uncle Joe snoozes in the hammock. A few of the grown-ups play cards. I take a short bike ride with Clara. When it starts to get dark, our eyes turn towards the river. The fire department shoots the fireworks off from a boat in the middle of the river, and we see the boat, but nothing’s happening.

“Not dark enough yet,” Grandpa says.

It looks dark enough to me and we wait. And wait. It seems to take forever. But then, there’s the shrill whistle you hear just before a firework explodes and we look up. Golden sparkles fill the sky. Green, silver, red— we watch the fireworks reflected in the river as another Fourth of July celebration comes to a close.

Comments are not available on this story.