Sunday, July 6, 2008

Independence Day In Lewisburg

Independence Day has given rise to a family tradition at our house: What with the town’s official “End of June” celebration now a week behind us, we invite a bunch of people to party on the Fourth. This year we organized a dish-to-share dinner. We grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and provided various soft drinks. Guests brought salads, casseroles, desserts, and whatever alcoholic drinks they wanted. The party started at 5:00, with the expectation we’d have some fireworks at dark. This meant a solid four-and-a-half hours of conversation, eating, and recreation.

It was interesting to see that the children organized themselves into games they played in the yard—most notably, Capture The Flag. Early, younger adults gravitated to the game tables: table tennis, air hockey, and pocket billiards in the basement. Older adults found comfortable seating and chatted while I fired up the grill.

After we ate, the children returned to games in the yard. The young adults, now, found comfortable seating and chatted while the older adults (well, many of the older adults) took over the game tables. Along the way, there was some Guitar Hero activity in the living room (adults, mostly).

The youngest kids were fading by the time it got dark—some parents took kids home early, but others stayed for the fireworks. Pennsylvania law allows fireworks that spray showers of sparks and make noise. Without a license, you may not set off fireworks that launch exploding shells into the air. So, we had a modest and mildly entertaining selection of firework fountains and spinny/sparky things, along with sparklers for people to wave. Near by, neighbors had a far more impressive selection of firework fountains and aerials—a display that was worth the price of admission.

Several moments will make the event stick with me for some time: We have a good friend from Pakistan who just graduated from Bucknell and is working in Lewisburg. He brought several folks with him who are attending—or have attended—Bucknell. I enjoyed visiting with them and learning (too little) about their experiences. As well, a few of them brought curry dishes as they’d have in their home countries! It stretched the food selections in unusual directions for a traditional Fourth of July meal.

One of our guests offered up a game of table tennis to awe all but the best players. My game isn’t polished, but it isn’t too shabby. However, the mere seven points I won against his 21 made it clear there is a level of table tennis far beyond my experience. He revealed after we played that going pro had been an option for him when he was ten years old.

Finally, another guest stayed at the pool table well after the fireworks. His shooting was decent, and it pleased me to learn that he plays several games—eight ball, nine ball, straight pool, and one pocket. We played a bit of each, and I showed him a few other ones he might try with his friends. I felt a little younger than usual when I shuttled him back to campus at 1:00 in the morning.

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