The 4th of July is, for most people, a holiday steeped in family traditions. At least here it is. When I was a kid we always went up to our cabin, got sunburned swimming in the lake, watched the fireworks from the marina and had hot dogs. Some people go to parades, cultural celebrations, family reunions, camping and a myriad of other activities.
I feel like today I did a good job of covering a lot of the 4th of July basics.
This morning, on my day off, I got up at the butt crack of dawn, put on my Visas Marr (Star Wars 501st) costume and made my way to the balloon launch at Provo, Utah's Freedom Festival.
What can I say? I'm a sucker for Star Wars. And a giant, Darth Vader head balloon will definitely get me out of bed on my day off. Plus parading around in costume, surrounded by people who want to take pictures, is awfully fun. I'll never be famous (for sure not rock star famous) so I figure I can get a little excited about people wanting to take my picture. Especially when all they can see is my nose, mouth and chin. It's really fun. I won't lie. The guys in armor and helmets have a very good time.
The winds were not in a cooperating mood this morning, and for a few minutes they weren't sure that they could even inflate D. Vader, but the Belgians are pretty much awesome, and against the weatherman's advice they did it.
We (the Star Wars geeks) played crowd control as the balloon got unrolled and then filled. The thing is HUGE. Something like sixty feet across and eighty high. Or maybe the other way around. Either way, I had to tell my section of the crowd to step back at least three times, and even then the side of it brushed up against me.
The balloon pilots/operators are great. They got Darth Vader up for about five minutes before the wind came along and they had to deflate him. Half of the crowd almost got buried, because the wind forced them to deflate in a different direction from where they inflated. Oops. A few, small children (and a handful of geeks) were lost for a few seconds, but they got out okay.
And now we can all say that Darth Vader's head almost buried us alive.
What's not 4th of July about that?
Maybe I should mention that one balloon did get up. We said the pledge of allegiance to the flag, sang the national anthem and then got the balloon safely back on the ground. Darn storm clouds.
Although I do have to admit that the clouds were a heaven sent blessing. We also marched in the parade. I didn't have any problems, but if the sun had been out we would have all cooked alive in our costumes. Yay for pleather, armor and helmets!
I'll try to post some pictures soon.