I celebrated Independence Day in “Small-Town USA.” To be specific, I was in Port Austin, Michigan. Imagine a patriotic lovechild between a state fair and the establishing sequence for a Jerry Bruckheimer movie.
It was a lot like that.
Let me set the scene: It’s Saturday, and the weather is inarguably beautiful – a sunny 75 degrees. It’s early enough in the summer where the algae blooms haven’t begun decaying and the wind is pushing away the sweet smell of 5 dozen cattle farms. The only scent of nature is the clean air blowing in off sparkling blue Lake Huron.
The Farmers’ Market is open for an extra 3 hours to accommodate parade traffic. The odoriferous smell of kettle corn, beef jerky, and fresh donuts hangs in the air – the aroma of Americana permeating the south end of Main Street. Children run past with squirt guns, giggling, while a hound dog in the bed of a timeworn pickup barks at nothing in particular.
It seems the town, itself, is clad in Old Glory. In a community of no more than 700 people, the streets are lined with 5-times that number; the festivities bringing spectators from as far away as Detroit and beyond. Even in such a crowd, fewer than 1 in 30 can be found not sporting red, white, and blue.
Bleached hair, sun-baked shoulders, frayed jean shorts, and a handheld American Flag. This is the attire of the day.
In such a Norman Rockwell-esque setting, the addition of a few extra factors took what would be a small-town 4th of July and upgraded it to a full-on Budweiser commercial.
- The water level in Lake Huron rose since last year. It rose something like a foot and a half – that’s huge.
- In case you missed it, Thrillist.com ranked Michigan the #1 state in the country. Since that article came out last week, we as a state have basically lost our collective mind.
- In 2011, air-born fireworks became legal to sell and buy in Michigan. This means there are more fireworks stores than McDonald’s in the state. (I haven’t verified that fact, but there are 631 McDonalds, and I pass 4 fireworks stores/tents just going to the bank, so I’m standing by that statement).
- Caseville Michigan boasts the cheapest fireworks store in the State, selling some of the largest shells you can legally buy.
The family cottage sits on cove in the tip of the Thumb, overlooking Lake Huron. From the yard, we can see 9 miles of shoreline. The “independent” fireworks started around 8pm and didn’t let up until 2 in the morning.
I have to admit I was impressed. Didn’t hear a single ambulance until midnight.
Enjoy some ‘Merica!