July 4 in Nashville is a great experience. July 4 was never a very fun holiday growing up since it falls in the middle of the busy season in farming and usually, taking the day off wasn’t an option. Even if my dad and the guys were simply irrigating, it meant them being gone for long portions of the day, often during the times you’d be wanting to have festivities. And a big fireworks show was basically out of the question in Southeast Missouri.
So, Nashville’s celebration on the Riverfront is a revelation for me. I went for the first time last year, and just had a great time sitting on the riverfront with friends, chatting, people-watching, snacking, and listening to the bands. This year, Mindy, Liz, and I braved the heat and crowds and got a place near the stage. It was a great place. We look happy, don’t we? (Yeah, I’m not sure what my face is doing either. . . )
And then, our new special friends showed up. The nicest way to say it is that they were kind of rednecks. They took our people-watching to all new levels. One member of the group, a woman obviously in pain, told us she’d discovered she had a broken vertebrae (or something) in her neck. She couldn’t hold her head up straight and I felt sorry for her because it couldn’t have been much fun to sit there like that. Then, after we’d been there awhile, some of the girls started pulling makeup out of their purses and doing their faces. Let me stress that we’d been there awhile. They were piling makeup atop sweaty skin. Eww. And one girl seemed to have learned eyeliner application in the Alanis Morrisette school of cosmetics.
Then, it rained. This opened up a whole new world of absurdity. To save their shirts, many members of the group decided to take off their shirts. That’s fine . . . if you look like, say, Andy Roddick. No one in this group did. And this one guy took off his shirt and insisted on dancing around (to shake off the rain), and when he would sit or squat down or bend over, we got to see WAY more than we wanted to. The girls in the group had bikini tops on under their shirts, so of course, their shirts came off too.
To make matters worse, I had an umbrella. I kept trying to share with Mindy and Liz, but neither cared that they were getting wet (and it actually felt kind of good at that point), so I was sitting under it alone. That’s when one of the unattached guys in our special group of friends noticed me and decided to make friends. Or hit on me. Or do anything to get under the cover of my umbrella. He kept calling me “Little Lady” or something like that. And at one point, one of the other girls in the group yelled at him that “he ain’t got game.” Classy. All the time.
Here’s a pic of us after the rain. Taken by my special Redneck Boyfriend.
In addition, our “friends” also snuck Natural Light beer into the park (not allowed, I don’t think) and were pouring it into a Gatorade bottle. And there was the smoking. And the Guy Who Nearly Mooned Us at one point smoked his cigarette part of the way, then shook off the ash, and stuck the remainder in his pocket to save for later.
The rain let up enough to let Gabe Dixon Band with special guest Jeremy Lister (wearing a straw hat) to perform. They were great and had apparently also waited out the rain, because they appeared to be a bit wet. Our friends, of course, stood through this performance and made me quite angry because seriously, Gabe and Jeremy were on stage and they were the one group I wanted to see!
(That would be Gabe at the piano and Jeremy wearing the straw hat.)
After that set, the crew started to set up the stage for Wynonna and the symphony and Fisk University singers led us in the national anthem. Then, Wynonna was announced. . . .and she wasn’t there. Even though it rained, she had a set performance time and apparently failed to show up on time. She finally got there after being announced 3 times and she was driven straight up to the stage in her SUV. I’m not a Wynonna fan, and she wasn’t so impressive to me. She sang “No One Else on Earth,” some song by Merle Haggard, and then launched into what would be her last song (the powers that be shortened the set in order to get the fireworks in before the rain storm hit). So what did Wy pick? “Freebird.” Yep, “Freebird.” It’s just not the same when it’s Wynonna singing it. And when a symphony is backing her. I wanted my time back. Our friends merely yelled things like “I love you, Wynonna,” “You’re beautiful!,” and some not nice things about the organizers shortening her set.
Somewhere right before or during Wy’s set, some more people had joined our friends’ group. They had a maybe 3-year old boy and a tiny baby girl. And the mother was wearing a bikini top with a bandeau top that she did not know how to wear correctly. These newest members of the little group also brought sparklers, which they set afire in the huge, crowded mass of people. No one around us thought this was a good idea.
After she left the stage, the fireworks began, and so did the rain. This was great for awhile and everyone was getting soaked, but then the weather went crazy! The wind was blowing, the rain was coming sideways, and I began to understand that I was not dressed appropriately. But then neither were the people in front of us. Shirts had come off again and the new girl took off her bandeau top, revealing tiny denim shorts that were too small and too low-cut when she bent over. It was not cool.
I missed a lot of the finale of the fireworks since looking up into the rain was a daunting adventure. So much water! So much rain! When the festivities were over, we packed up and hiked back to the car. Surprisingly, because of the weather tons of people just left their stuff in Riverfront Park. I’m talking chairs, blankets, etc. It was crazy!
All that said, it was a fun time. I’ll definitely go back next year. . . . with a raincoat, a backpack, and one small cooler. That’s it!