A Garrison Keillor 4th of July

Celebrating the 4th of July with fireworks is a part of what makes every summer whole. Last year we went to the beach. This year we stayed close to home and started the day in Marietta Square looking for a watermelon. We arrived in the late morning and were met by a dozen or more people on unicycles, possibly from the front end of the parade. We parked several blocks away and saw a bit of the end of the parade as we walked into the square. Some people were still enjoying it from atop the newly renovated Strand Theater. After the parade there was music on the bandstand and some of the regular farmer’s market vendors joined the food and craft vendors for the holiday, unfortunately, not those selling watermelon. It was good to see water in the fountain again, now that we are out of drought status. There was a bungee trampoline with tiny fearless humans flying through the air and home made style ice cream powered by a hit and miss engine. We ate at Marietta Pizza Company where Sweetwater Brewery was promoting their “Save the Hooch” campaign, got our watermelon at Harry’s Farmers Market and decided to see the fireworks in Alpharetta at Wills Park.

Wills Park is always a treat. We came early to have a picnic and enjoy the park filled with other families. There seemed to be a few more side attractions here than what I had noticed in years past, a bandstand, magician, face painter and food vendors. Stu Enloe was there with a hot air balloon inflated and on static display. As I watched families celebrate with football, frisbees, rice crispy treats and sparklers I had a sense of time standing still because this day was so much like every other 4th of July as far back as I can remember. When the fireworks began the crowd was alive with loud cheers and clapping.

It seemed doubly appropriate that PBS aired an American Masters episode featuring Garrison Keillor over the holiday weekend. It was not specifically a holiday program, but deeply American all the same, and no one else can pull you into his imagination to make you feel like you grew up in that same small town with him in quite the same way. During the program Mr. Keillor asked his audiences to join him in singing the Star Spangled Banner and it captured his intent precisely. He said that singing in that way brought people together. He talked about believing that our country was good and that he didn’t believe it was angry people who made it that way. He had given the example of angry talk show hosts. Mr. Keillor said something else that really reached me. He said that when he was young his deepest fear was to live an ordinary life. I remembered intensely wanting things to be bigger and more special when I was young. But, then he said he realized when his daughter was born, he had a sense that it was ordinary and that was when he realized that ordinary was good enough. I had been enjoying a very ordinary 4th of July while at the same time I was appreciating the extraordinary nature of it all when I heard this. Yes, Mr. Keillor, I agree. Ordinary is good enough.