Fireworks on Lake Michigan, plus how to survive the 5th of July

 Yesterday was the 4th of July, and today I’m feelin’ the effects.

4th of July has always been a favorite holiday of mine because it is one of those rare days America seems to come together in one way or another.  Though we may bicker over healthcare or GLBT rights, for one day we all bond over a mutual love for explosions, libations and salutations (by that I mean fireworks, beer and chants of “USA! USA!”).

I have also been especially looking forward to celebrating in Chicago.  In years past, I have spent the 4th watching fireworks explode in front of the NYC skyline out of my Uncle’s apartment window in Queens, at my best friend’s family’s lake house Up North (soooooo Minnesotan, I know) and watching a neighborhood parade near where I grew up. Though these have created great memories, this year in Chicago is definitely one I will never forget.

After lounging at the beach (only fools like me and my friends would think sitting in direct sunlight on a 102 degree day would be a great idea– though we loved it), heading to a friend’s barbeque and watching the Nathan’s hot dog eating championship, stopping by another barbeque to taste my first sweet watermelon slice of the summer, and wandering through the back streets of Rogers Park, waving to friends sitting in backyards and rooftops, and even stopping by an impromptu alley party, we headed to the beach.  Even on the hottest days of summer, I have never seen this many people crowding Loyola beach– the pier was packed, the water filled with waders.  We were worried about being able to see the Navy Pier or Evanston fireworks, a worry that turned out to be in vain, as from our spot on a sandbar about 50 feet from shore, we could look to our right and see rogue fireworks being set off from the beach and choreographed smiley-face fireworks from Evanston; in front of us, fireworks were set off from some unknown spot in the neighborhood; and to our left, the majestic, city-funded Navy Pier fireworks sparkled in the distance.  Behind us, an orange moon rose in the sky, tricking the corners of our eyes into thinking more fireworks were being set off over the water.  I finally feel I can sing the “do you remember when, fireworks on Lake Michigan…” line from Kanye West’s “Homecoming”, with some familiarity. I do remember those fireworks, and always will remember this 4th.

All poetry aside, today I’m not feeling the same reverence for the holiday as I did yesterday.  Sitting outside in 100 degree heat, drinking beer and eating red meat is fun and all at the time, but does not make for a happy 9-5 workday the next day.  Feeling inspired by this, I decided to write up a little post for my ChicagoNow blog ChiU called “5 Ways To Survive The 5th Of July”. I formatted this in a list-style, making it easier for hungover eyes to read and comprehend, found a great photo using Creative Commons from Flickr (see above) and threw a poll from Twiigs in at the end.  I find polls are a  great way to make a blog post/online article interactive, plus get an idea of how many people are reading your blog.  Not many people comment on my ChicagoNow posts because you have to have a ChicagoNow account to do so, and for a post like this, most people are going to read it, laugh at it (hopefully!!) and then move on with their day.  Voting in a poll is a nice way for them to see I care whether they read the post or not, and their feedback on the content.

That being said, I think I’m going to take a little advice from my own writing and keep drinking water/eating bagels/planning for next year. Happy 5th of July!

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