At six-thirty a.m. on the Fourth of July twenty-one years ago, my darling daughter came into the light of the world. A Fourth of July birth was so completely unplanned that it was hard to keep a straight face when people assumed that it was. From the maternity ward room’s large picture window, my beautiful pink, dark-haired baby and I watched her first Fourth of July fireworks on the river. For years my daughter thought every Fourth of July fireworks display was in her honor. None of us attempted to dissuade her from this belief.
Several summers ago we landed in Bristol, Rhode Island on her birthday. Our friend informed us that Bristol, RI has the oldest Fourth of July parade in the United States. I doubted it not, for our friend Marianne was a fountain of lore regarding her home state. We scrambled with our friend and her cousins early in the morning to set up chairs on a grassy strip near the avenue for primo seating in order to view the nearly 3-mile long parade. Elaborate floats, military veterans, marching bands from around the country, acrobatic clowns, and entertainment galore hold spectators’ interest until the very end of the parade, which ended some three hours later. It was a spectacular that Florenz Ziegfeld would have envied for his Follies.
After the parade ended, we gathered up our lawn chairs and retreated to our friend’s house for al fresco dining. We feasted on Italian sausage, roasted peppers, coarse Italian bread, and mountains of fresh fruit. But the piece de resistance was the fabulous red, white, and blue frosted chocolate birthday cake from a local Italian bakery. Anjelica celebrated her birthday Rhode Island style that year. She reveled in every moment of it.