For the first time in 22 years, Ella and I attended the city’s annual Independence Day concert and fireworks extravaganza. Usually, we find a spot beside the road and just watch the fireworks, but this year, the city hosted Darius Rucker as the main performer, and I knew Ella would be mighty upset with me if I didn’t grab a couple of free tickets when they went “on sale” in June.
When it comes to concerts, I’m usually a stick in the mud, figuring why pay big money to sit in nose-bleed seats and watch the concert on the big screens. Heck, I can watch the big screen at home, and not pay $5 for a lemonade. I didn’t figure this concert would be any different, since they were giving away 15,000 tickets, and stressing security since the concert moved from the local stadium to the parking lot of the Museum of Aviation adjacent to Robins Air Force Base.
With a starting time of 7 p.m., parking opened at 4 p.m., and the gates opened at 5 p.m. We were standing in line in the hot sun by 4:15, and there must have been 7,000 people in front of us, and probably just as many behind us as the line started slowly moving.
|The tree line in the top of the picture was only the halfway point to our seats; |
we still had to cross the street and walk across the museum parking lot. There are probably as many people behind us in this picture as there are in front
By 6 p.m., we were through the security checkpoint, and had staked out the closest real estate for our chairs. The stage sure looked small from our spot, but we did have a good view of the two giant TV screens.
|The stage as seen from our seats|
After the Star Spangled Banner; an awesome flyover by two military jets; and an unremarkable opening act, Mr. Rucker hit the stage while Ella and I waited in line (20 minutes) for the aforementioned $5 lemonade. We finally made it back to our chairs, and were treated not only to the performance, but also to the constant patrols of the military police, and one sick kid who puked on the walkway right in front of us.
To be honest, Mr. Rucker put on a good show, or at least it sounded good; I grew tired of watching the big screens. At the end of his set, he walked off the stage, having not sung his biggest hit, obviously setting up for his obligatory encore. People around us started yelling “Wagon Wheeeel, Wagon Wheeeeeeel,” like that wasn’t already planned. Sure enough, Mr. Rucker made his fans happy, and sung his signature song. Immediately after he left the stage, the fireworks began, and I’ll have to say it was one of the longest and best displays that I have seen.
Once the fireworks ended, people began grabbing their chairs, and heading the half mile back to their cars. I was expecting it to take forever, but we actually made it out of the parking lot in just a few minutes. Either traffic control was extraordinary, or we were just plain lucky. Probably, it was little of both.
In hindsight, this concert experience wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected, but didn’t change my opinion that kicking back in my easy chair, watching a concert on my big screen, and not having to use a porta-potty is still better.
Have a great week, everyone.