How the 4th of July in San Francisco Almost Sucked

I come from a family of proud pyromaniacs. As a kid, my mom burned down her toy teepee by starting a fire inside, while my dad waged bottle rocket wars with his buddies. About a year ago, my brother shot off 30,000 – yes, that’s the correct amount of zeros – firecrackers at our folks’ [...]

Bernal Heights San Francisco fireworks

Blasts from Bernal Heights in San Francisco.

I come from a family of proud pyromaniacs. As a kid, my mom burned down her toy teepee by starting a fire inside, while my dad waged bottle rocket wars with his buddies. About a year ago, my brother shot off 30,000 – yes, that’s the correct amount of zeros – firecrackers at our folks’ house in Florida. The five-minute barrage of gunpowder scorched a swath across the backyard where the grass has barely begun to grow back.

No surprise, then, that the Fourth of July has always been a big deal in the Bachelor household. It’s all about boating, barbeque and magnificent blasts in the sky, and it’s pure magic, I tell you. I can remember exactly one time in the past decade that I haven’t been home for the holiday until this year. But it just wasn’t in the cards for Chris and me to make the trip from San Francisco, and combined with the bit of bad luck we’ve been struggling with lately, I felt every single one of the 2,509 miles between here and Valparaiso, Florida, when I woke up yesterday.

Instead of jumping out of bed and putting on my swimsuit, as I would back home, I reluctantly crawled from the covers and put on my workout gear, hoping to run off my blue mood. Didn’t happen. In six miles and four neighborhoods, I saw just three nods to the holiday: an Asian woman wearing a blue-and-red striped dress, a child’s drawing of a flag taped to the façade of a house and an actual flag, properly displayed, pole and all.

San Francisco flag 4th of July

Ours was one lonely flag on the 4th.

It’s important to note that my fireworks-loving family also has a long history of military service, which makes me a stickler for displays of patriotism. And granted, it probably takes six months’ of community hearings and a governor’s permit to put a flagpole on your house here. But still. In a city that so famously celebrates its freedoms, couldn’t San Francisco do a little better when it comes to honoring, just for one day, the country that makes them possible?

But a few hours later in Sausalito, the fine fellow in the photo below, a limo driver who named Jay Leno and Betty White among his customers, almost made up for those shortcomings. We’d spent the day with our friend Martin at a lively waterfront restaurant, and though gourmet pizza and wine seemed a tad odd instead of the barbeque and beer I’ve always known on the 4th, it was a lovely afternoon.

Sausalito patriot

San Franciscans should take a hint.

Things weren’t looking quite so good for the fireworks, though. The fog began to roll in on the ferry ride back, bringing with it my homesickness. We headed home instead of joining the crowds for the city fireworks, and once back in our neighborhood, somehow managed to rouse the energy to climb Bernal Hill to see what we could of the show.

San Francisco Fourth of July

I’m so glad we did. As it always does, San Francisco burst to life as the sun went down, as blasts from rebellious residents — as in Florida, fireworks are banned without a permit — lit up the sky in every direction. The booms ricocheted off the hills and houses, creating a deliciously illegal cacophony. We took it all in from our perch on the hill, and 2,509 miles to the east, there was a sleeping family who would have been just as impressed.

San Francisco Bernal Heights fireworks

Some equally awed onlookers.

1 Comment »

  1. I probably ate enough BBQ chicken for the both of us. It was a gross display, and I did it in half the time as Kyle (which is pretty standard). Happy to hear you had a nice 4th and San Fran pulled through in the end. ;)

    Comment by Beth — July 5, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment