With the 4th of July on the horizon, I took some time to reflect on some of my favorite Independence Day memories. The 4th of July is truly one of my favorite holidays of the year, and it’s a special time to reunite with family, friends and members of the community.
Earlier this week, I read this Washington Post article about the unique and peculiar 4th of July celebrations across the country. Every American region, state and town has their own stamp on celebrating our nation’s independence. In Maine, they race lobsters, while in Catalina Island, California, people take part in a golf cart parade. In Seward, Alaska, brave challengers even scale a mountain for what has been deemed the nation’s hardest 5k race!
During the 1980s, I started my own unique 4th of July celebration centered around music! I fell in love with the Ravinia Festival when my daughter Laura and I lived in Highland Park, Illinois. First opened in 1904, Ravinia Festival is the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States and summer residency of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The thirty-six-acre park is situated north of Chicago in a beautiful wooded area.
My friends and I always enjoyed listening to the music while having a picnic on the lawn. Whether the concerts were classical, jazz, pop, or country, they were all performed by first-class international performers.
My favorite Ravinia memory will always be the much-anticipated annual performance each July of Tchaikovsky’s iconic “1812 Overture.” I especially loved the growing anticipation among the audience as the performance got closer to its stunning final crescendo. For one moment, sitting there under the stars, thousands of us were transfixed—transported by the magic of musical genius and virtuosity back over two hundred years to a battlefield surrounded by the sound of cannons exploding everywhere. It was thrilling every single year.
No other live musical performance has impacted me nor stayed with me like the “1812 Overture” at Ravinia. Each year, I stretched out on my blanket staring upward at the black sky lit with the twinkling stars of heaven, I was sure there was no place I’d rather be.
It’s the perfect way to end a hot summer July day alongside family and friends, and it truly embraces the Independence Day spirit.
How do you celebrate July 4th?
© Tyra Manning 2019