06 Jul 2011

Nantucket 4th of July…

Nantucket 4h of July

The celebration was electrifying on Main Street this weekend as thousands of exuberant, red white and blue clad locals and visitors crammed the streets of downtown Nantucket. Eager contestants gobbled blueberry pies and watermelon slices in pursuit of the coveted blue ribbons.  Bicycles and puppies were adorned with patriotic streamers and bows.  Tiny tots and grandparents alike, vied for the goofy holiday hat award.  In Nantucket, the party isn’t finished until the fire trucks have unleashed a torrent of water up and down Main Street during the annual Nantucket 4th of July water fight.  Of course, the big finale of the weekend, all across America, is the moment when red, white and blue explosions erupt overhead and we all oooh, ahhh and sigh.  At the party we attend, someone always breaks into song and leads us in America The Beautiful.  We all applaud…and then get very quiet while the big fireworks finale illuminates the night sky and we consider the land we love – “from sea to shining sea.”

There are hundreds of beautiful songs about our amazing country, but I think Lee Greenwood captured the heartbeat of every American when he wrote “God Bless the USA.”  As I sat down to write late last night and paint a Nantucket “word picture” that would capture the enthusiastic way Nantucket celebrates Independence Day, I realized that our weekend festivities were also the nations festivities.  It’s the one time each year when all Nantucketers, and all Americans for that matter, find common ground.  Race, color, creed, religious background, political party, man, woman or child;  on this one very special day we all place our collective hands across our hearts and pledge our allegiance not just to the flag, but to a country that has truly given each of us “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”   

Nantucket provides the perfect backdrop for a celebration of this scope.  The island is steeped in the history of our forefathers. Benjamin Franklin’s mother was born on this island – imagine!  One of my favorite events of the weekend is listening to a few of the townspeople read the Declaration of Independence from a stage in the center of Main Street.  As I soak up every word, I’m reminded of where we come from and how lucky we are to live in a place that honors the past while building the future.

If a Nantucket 4th of July celebration is always part of your summer agenda, then you are likely still polishing off the leftover hot dogs and apple pie and already making plans for next year.  What new recipes will you serve at the picnic?  Where can you purchase one of those goofy tri-color hats?  How can you train to edge out that scrawny kid in the pie eating contest?  Most importantly, you are likely already designing your guest list – which friends and family will you gather together to join you for this very special weekend?  If you’ve never had the pleasure of celebrating the nation’s independence on this nostalgic island, please begin making plans now to come to a place that will take you back in time and leave you singing along with Lee Greenwood.

“There ain’t no doubt, I love this land…..”

Shellie Dunlap

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