Let freedom ring for Independence Day and every day! America’s birthday is a perfect time to express gratitude for our freedom to create memories that include family barbecues, “flag” colored desserts, parades, neighborhood gatherings and spectacular fireworks, to name a few things that many of us take for granted.
As a youngster in Muncie, Ind., I recall that our family and friends expected little more than watching fireworks from the banks of the White River. Mother popped enough popcorn to pack a large brown grocery bag and she filled our green picnic jug with fresh lemonade. Then we were set to sit on a big blanket to watch both the brilliant bursts of fireworks in the night sky as well as the well-designed display at ground level.
The other day I got to thinking about America’s bicentennial Fourth of July in 1976 when I was a young adult, living in New York City before marriage. What an incredible week to experience sights of more than 225 tall-masted ships from around that world that arrived to parade up the Hudson River.
I recall a most memorable headline that appeared with a photo of the then-Soviet Union’s 378 foot-long, four-masted barque named Kruzenshtern. One of the New York tabloids featured a front page photo of the Kruzenshtern at dusk with the song title, “Red Sails in the Sunset,” a hit about 20 years earlier by Hollywood heartthrob Tab Hunter. The other day, I also spent way too much time unsuccessfully searching online to find a copy of that front page from July 1976. I know it’s true. I can still picture it. Plus, the headline is too good not to be true. I couldn’t have made it up!
That same summer I recall a news story back when I still watched the nightly news on TV. To commemorate the Bicentennial, folks could order an American flag to be flown over the U.S. Capitol on July 4, 1976. More than 10,000 orders were received.
That 24-hour Bicentennial period required “50 men working with precision at 20 flag poles” to hoist a reported 10,471 American flags over the U.S. Capitol.
Forever emblazoned in my memory are mages of those 24-hours as they were crammed into a minute via time-lapse photography to create a feature during that news broadcast.
Imagine, if you will, film footage of more than 10,471 flags being hoisted up and down, up and down, up and down, to meet demand, all squeezed into a minute.
Tour Moser Tower
Fast forward to late May 2023. All that up-and-down commotion from the Bicentennial came to mind with news that Moser Tower is expected to reopen for guided tours.
Back in 2007 when Moser Tower tours were announced, I anticipated in our City of 141,000 residents the possibility of thousands of visitors lining up along the Riverwalk that first day to climb to see the incredible vistas I’d seen during the 253-step climb to the observation deck. Over the years while the 160-foot tower was being built, I’d been up there numerous times in my hardhat. (Some special advantages are given to the media.)
With great anticipation, I imagined a scene similar to Independence Day 1976 when flags were hoisted up and down for America’s 200th birthday. I envisioned a long line of curious visitors would be waiting, ready to hurry up and down the elevator and up and down the narrow staircase.
On the first day tours were offered some 16 years ago, I rushed over to Moser Tower. Barely anyone was waiting. No long line of visitors was eager to climb the equivalent to 16 stories to the observation deck on that clear day for a chance to see our beautiful Tree City as it stretches toward the Chicago skyline. It’s an incredible view. I just had to tell you.
Looking forward, here’s hoping July offers good health and pleasant summer days. Yet, don’t assume just because you know to keep yourself hydrated it’s common knowledge. And don’t assume sprinkling your lawn on odd or even days that coincide with your street address is known by everybody in your household. Help inform family, friends and neighbors about water, water, water.
Thanks for reading. Celebrate safely.
– Stephanie Penick, PN Publisher
Update, July 1, 2023 / We appreciate the phone call from 45-year Naperville resident Bob Kress who lived in Providence, Rhode Island, back when the tall ships sailed to America in 1976. He recalls that summer when the ships anchored in Newport the week prior to their parade up the Hudson River, a memorable time when all the sailors displayed “a great show of camaraderie” during their visit to America to celebrate her first 200 years. That camaraderie continued as cooperative spirit among different cultures that we also observed in New York Harbor when more than 200 ships from around the world arrived to celebrate Independence Day. Thanks, Bob. And thanks for reading.