You cannot beat Fourth of July in the Midwest. We had the best time celebrating. There was beautiful weather, fireworks galore, and family fun around every corner.
On Friday, our family participated in the neighborhood bike parade. It is a homegrown institution, started a few years ago by two schoolteachers in the neighborhood. We decorate all the children's bikes in the morning, and by ten o'clock 150-200 kids are lined up on a neighboring street to start the parade. This year, there was a fire engine at the front of the line and a cowboy on horseback carrying an American flag at the end of the parade. In between, there were decorated four-wheelers, golf carts, tricycles, bikes, wagons, even strollers. As the whole group processes through the neighborhood, we wave and wish people "Happy 4th". It is fun to see how many people bring out their lawn chairs to wave to all the children along the way.
The parade always ends at the same house, with an open garage door and a freezer full of popsicles for the parents and children. It is run entirely by families who have volunteered to make it happen, and it could not be more appreciated by the community. There is no profit, no angle, no politicians involved -- just a community of volunteers and families having fun and celebrating Independence day.
That was typical of the weekend, though. We went to fireworks and the children shared 'glow-sticks' with a little girl who had none, making a new friend in the process. We had a family barbecue on Sunday where everybody contributed to the feast. It was held in a park where almost every alcove was full of extended families doing just the same thing.
For me, the times we enjoyed this weekend confirm that we live in a truly great country filled with generous people. This weekend, it did not matter what Monday's headlines will say or how the stock market will go up or down. We were all members of a loving family, good neighbors in a healthy community, and friends having fun together.
Fourth of July in the Midwest shows the best of what America is. We are giving of our time and our talents. We are people who help one another and set aside our worries to celebrate together. It is an amazing blessing to live in such a rare and wonderful country.