Cheyenne might be the best-kept secret when it comes to Independence Day fireworks. The past couple years we've watched them from the softball fields on base--you can see them almost as well as if you were at the Frontier Stadium, but you don't have quite the amount of traffic you find if you're in the thick of things.
This year, though, we decided to venture to the stadium. And you know what we found out? The view from inside the stadium is about 25 zillion times better than at the softball fields, and is totally worth the traffic and noise. When we were entering, the Cat Daddy remarked, "I wonder where they'll set the fireworks off from?" and I was all, "I dunno, they don't have barges like when we saw the fireworks in Boston that one year" (which was the awesomeness, BTW).
It turns out that, for the fireworks show, they close off one side of the stadium. So everyone sits on the west side, and they set off the fireworks from the east side. You know how sometimes when you see a firework climbing into the sky before it explodes, and it looks almost peaceful? Well, when you are 50 yards from the launch sites you can see how fiery it actually is. OK, maybe "fiery" is too strong a term, but definitely "ember-y," if you will. There's nothing peaceful about launching fireworks, that's for sure.
Now, these were the real deal. There were perhaps a good many fewer fireworks involved than one would find in a big city, but what they lacked in quantity they made up in sheer and blatant proximity. No one's retinas were burned or anything, but it's not because they didn't try. As the fireworks cracked and boomed, we could watch them fade to embers. At first I thought, "Wow, the fireworks seem so close," but as I followed the embers all the way to the rodeo dirt in front of us I thought, "By golly, someone's going to catch fire if they're not careful." Luckily for the finale I succumbed and covered my ears, because I think I very nearly ruptured an eardrum. So while those over on the base saw maybe 70% of the fireworks, the remainder didn't clear the stadium walls enough to be seen by the poor saps on the outside.
And while some might think, "Oh goodness, that sounds unpleasant," it was quite possibly the coolest fireworks show ever. Cheyenne does have that Wild West spirit about it, part of which is a sort of bratty, "I'm gonna do what I want and you can't stop me" spirit. In a good way. The vibe I got was along the lines of "We like to experience our fireworks, and there are no trees to burn down so we're going hardcore with it." Plus the opening song was the Toby Keith one about America putting its boot in a$$es, which of course contributed to the independent rebel feel.
Now here's a situation where my intelligence occasionally...slips out for a bit. Prior to the fireworks they had a local country band, and then the main pre-show of the night was Tops in Blue (an Air Force touring musical group). I have no idea how I made it this long without figuring it, but I had always assumed that Tops in Blue was sort of similar to the Boston Pops. Or any other Pops, for that matter. It was not until this evening, reading the Tops in Blue program, that I realized that, while the two words rhyme, "Tops" is not the same as "Pops." At all. Rather than being a cool orchestral deal, Tops in Blue is more like show choir. Think "Glee," minus drama, plot twists, and any over-the-top cool/crazy/glam factors (And obviously minus any gay folks, since Don't Ask Don't Tell isn't quite gone yet, and it is a military group, after all). While most of the members themselves were obviously talented--and well-practiced in jazz hands--the show was...well, it did get better as the show went on, but let's just say it was not as cool as the fireworks and leave it at that.
Now, each of the musical groups of course did "Proud to Be An American." And then the fireworks show, not to be outdone, did it too, bringing the grand total for the night to three--count them, THREE--rounds of the dang song, which simply is not one of my favorites. Once upon a time I really liked it, and then I heard it overplayed and hoke-i-fied beyond all reason, and now I make poking motions at my eyeballs when I hear it. Sorry. I did mime a big gigantic drum fill all three times at the part of the chorus near the end of the song with the pause and/or big gigantic drum fill, depending on which version you're listening to. So it's not a total hatred of the song or anything. Maybe just a mostly-hatred, or a heavy dislike perhaps.
We sat with Ms Sitter and her boys, and we brought along the glow bracelets which were a Target dollar bin treasure a few weeks back. They were a big hit. So much so that, at the end of everything when we were all getting up to trek to our cars, His Highness told Ms Sitter's kids, "We're going to need those back." Thankfully I heard him, because I was then able to calm the stricken boys by reassuring them that they could, in fact, keep their glow bracelets, and to remind His Highness that we had brought them to share with our friends, even for keeps in this case.
Even the Cat Daddy, who in general can find very little he enjoys about Cheyenne, was impressed by the perceived danger level of the fireworks show. And that's saying something...