If ever Americans needed a few days off to try and match pre-pandemic holiday pleasure, this Fourth of July break finally allowed us the liberty to find our way. Even in regular times, most of us winter pining for distant days when the summer sun will warm our faces. With our recent house arrest, haven’t we been as eager to gallop free from behind the gate as the first racehorse loaded in a twenty-horse field? Obviously, I realize some of you reside in cooler climes, and there are pockets of concern over a covid variant, but by and large, the magnificent sunny “Fourth” ushered in a warm (hot?) outdoor playtime for plenty of us. Unrestrained, we could go and do again!
Our patriotic “Independence Days” call us all outdoors. Now that it is safer for us to partake, we aim never to be cheated from our beloved activities. Independent in a fresh sense, America- at once- leapt to find something active and cathartic to do. Importantly, it created normalcy. Of course, we are a varied lot so our “normal” holiday behavior ran the spectrum. Still, I witnessed some common threads.
Many of us incorporated movement into the choices for our long weekend. Citizens pursued long-standing recreation such as hoops and horseshoes or new-fangled options like disc golf and geocaching. Folks biked, boated, walked, skated, and ran in our parks all over the country. I witnessed families scrambling in all haste just to arrive to be sedentary (fishing, tanning, spectating, and card-playing). Picnics, barbecues, parades, and fireworks materialized seemingly just in time. Yes, the U.S. was a mobile kaleidoscope of escape for three days.
I noticed yet a second prevalent theme. Vacationers sought to revel by or in the water. We gravitated towards the oceans, lakes, pools and even open fire hydrants. For Americans, a proximity to water in any manner might have been mandated to both cool and heal us all. Splashing in or lounging by water was wholly necessary and definitely timely. I suggest the water may have symbolically washed away our recent limitations?
The ever-present American concept of competition filled the holiday for a bulk of us too. Modern-day, Rockwellian tableaus dotted our landscape once more. You saw them. The youth sport’s showcases were ubiquitous. There were scenes of helicopter parents rushing to the hyper-competitive events. Displays of younger siblings jostling in line at the concession stand while lacrosse, soccer, and baseball players vied on green fields. Professional competitions drew our attention too. NHL and NBA playoffs, along with motorsport races, made many of us all stand and cheer without a mask for the first time in a while.
All in all, we hardly seemed leisurely in chasing our leisure! The point is, Americans needed this holiday in the worst way – we just didn’t all spend it the same way. My observations did find, however, a few shared quests. Given the chance this Fourth, Americans got to openly decide how to holiday and a majority chose water, movement, and competition while exercising their freedom. I am now planning my Labor Day festivities. I think I’ll run my backyard sprinklers while holding neighborhood contests. Perhaps I’ll offer putt-putt, poker, and dancing championships while showing the NFL on a big outdoor screen? By my calculations, the response should be massive- Let’s see, maybe $5.00 a head to enter. Now that could add up to a gate I could get behind!