Fourth of July, Suffolk style

Published 6:18 pm Wednesday, June 30, 2010

For me, the Fourth of July holiday has always been filled with barbecues, fireworks and plenty of red, white and blue.

My family moved into my childhood home when I was 4 years old. It would be the only home I knew until I graduated high school and moved to Virginia.

The neat thing about the street our home was on was it was a circle with two outlets, one equidistant from the other.

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So, every year, we would get a permit — thanks to my daddy, who is a city planner — and block off half the street.

The entire neighborhood would come out for our annual Fourth of July Block Party and bring a different dish. We’d barbecue and set up a few long tables down the middle of the street, where we’d make a large buffet. There was always a chalk drawing competition on the asphalt, a bike decorating competition and a Fourth of July fashion show.

When the sun would start to go down, we’d clear the street of the food and tables and start to light off our fireworks — which was legal, by the way.

It was always a competition to see whose family got the biggest fireworks.

The cherry on the top of the evening was always the city’s fireworks display, which we could see from our street. I always brought my friends up to my bedroom, which was on the second story of our home, where we could easily crawl out of my floor-to-ceiling windows and onto the roof of our first story, where we would watch the fireworks.

It was a neighborhood event everyone always looked forward to.

Sunday will mark my sixth Fourth of July away from home, and in the past five years I can’t say I’ve had a memorable holiday.

Last year, my husband and I made a valiant attempt to see fireworks in Virginia Beach but ended up stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic — a far cry from my childhood memories.

This Fourth of July I will be working, along with the rest of my Suffolk News-Herald family, covering Suffolk’s Fourth of July activities.

One might think the fact I have to work would be yet another notch in my bedpost of Fourth of Julys that could have been better spent.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I’ve heard a lot about Suffolk’s holiday activities, and I’m excited to be in a community that knows how to celebrate.

I’m ready to put on my red, white and blue, celebrate all the things that make our country great and see if these Suffolk Fourth of July celebrations live up to all I’ve heard of them.