Beyond the Esplanade


One of the last best things I did in Cambridge was to go see the July 4 fireworks from the bank of the Charles with blogging friends (Thanks, J!), getting closer to the flash and crash than my previous years’ vantage point in a crowd of neighbors atop Prospect Hill, a mile or so from the sound and smoke.

This weekend I was watching more pyrotechnics from atop another hill, the one I live on now. I’m so new here that I don’t even know if the hill has a name, but it gave me a new perspective for a fireworks show that competes for excitement and audience with Boston’s Independence Day.

Knoxville calls the Labor Day event Boomsday. A sponsor also calls it “the biggest single-day event in the state of Tennessee and the largest fireworks show in the southeast United States.”

Whille Boston fires its rockets from a barge in the river, these fireworks are launched from a high bridge over the Tennessee River — a bridge that just happens to be anchored to my new hilltop. Down along the river, the city closes a stretch of highway, turning it into a midway for the day, stretching off toward the university stadium. Hundreds of thousands of people join in the fun, and the “Tennessee navy” drops anchor in the river — about 200 powerboats that stay for Sunday’s Big Orange football game.

The Boomsday show doesn’t include the Boston Pops, Stars & Stripes Forever or the 1812 Overture cannons… but I read that there was some Gershwin broadcast to coincide with the most elegant part of the display, and at a more climactic point I did hear a few people singing along with Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” Next year, maybe I’ll find a seat closer to the sound system.
Beyond the Esplanade …

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