In More Ways Than One
Last night my husband Mike and I went to see our town’s fireworks. Due to the recession, budget cuts and local drama, fireworks this year were held at Yogi Berra Stadium, hard by Montclair State University, instead of at Mountainside Park, near the world famous Presby Iris Gardens. Since we used to go early, settle in on blankets with a picnic dinner and candles around us we were disappointed to hear about the change in venue, but determined to give it a chance to wow us.
We hopped in Mike’s old Ford Explorer (which has a nail in one of the tires that’s holding the air in nicely, thank you very much) and drove to the stadium. It took about 30 minutes all in (versus the usual less than 10 minutes) with the traffic last night, but no big deal, right? Cars were directed to park in either the new six-level parking deck or a surface lot near the stadium. The college campus is under tons of construction in that area so after we parked on level 5 of the spiffy new deck we picked our way through missing sidewalks and dusty pathways the short distance to the stadium.
Folks came from far and wide to see our town’s fireworks. The stadium was jammed with families, couples, singles, teens, youngster, and oldsters. We didn’t see anyone we knew. After a short search we found two seats and settled back. The stadium is home to the Jackals, a minor league baseball team. Since we arrived close to the 9:30 start we only saw a few of the fun games and crowd-pleasing antics of the MC.
The fireworks began promptly, and they were 30 minutes of wonder, sound and color.
The little boy seated behind me exclaimed in awe at every display that lit the night: “Oh my God! Oh my God.” He kicked his seat, my seat and apparently his mom’s seat in excitement. He talked us through every single boom, every single color of the fireworks and checked regularly with his mom if there was a slight pause in the display, “Mom, is it over yet?” If you listen closely to the video I uploaded (“My World and Welcome to It”) you can hear his exclamations of delight. The finale was terrific. The music that accompanied the fireworks was patriotic and moving. We really enjoyed the show.
As the last rocket flared, people started to exit the stadium for their cars. Mike and I hung around, figuring we’d let the crowd clear. After a while Mike’s butt started to hurt from the hard stadium seat so we walk slowly to the parking deck. . .and saw the most incredible traffic jamb I’ve seen in a long time. Cars were gridlocked trying to get out of the parking deck. It was six levels of mayhem.
We live in New Jersey. Many people are not particularly polite, especially when they are driving. All the cars were parked head in so in order to exit your parking spot, you had to back your car up. And no one we saw was cutting a backer-upper a break. Literally, cars were unable to move.
Slowly, ever so slowly the parking deck began to clear, beginning with level one. By the time we could even think of moving the Explorer more than 45 minutes had passed. And it took an hour and 15 minutes for us to actually reach and exit the parking deck. People were still backed up behind us too since they were on the top-most level.
Although the fireworks were fun and beautiful Mike and I decide that if they are held at the same location next year we will not attend. As Mike put it succinctly, “It took us three hours of travel time to watch 30 minutes of fireworks.” And we missed our pre-fireworks picnic and seeing our friends.