Bars, restaurants, culture and events… Dan Mathers’ weekly guide to what’s going on in Cape May
A fireworks display is all about the finale; everything else is just a teaser. You give the standard “oohs” and “aahs” for the echoing booms, the arching blooms and crackling bands of light, but we all await the glorious, percussive staccato that is the grand finale. Sometimes that finale is spread out, a variety of explosions across the sky. Here, they were condensed – a multitude of eruptions exploding at a single focal point. The sky lit up with the repeated ra-ta-tat-tat before the display signaled its demise with a singular boom.
As I lounged in my pink-padded lawn chair around the Congress Hall pool and sipped my Stoli tonic, I reflected on how lucky I was. I thought about what an amazing opportunity it has been for me to spend the best years of my life here, in one of the most beautiful cities in the greatest country on earth. “Happy Fourth of July,” I thought to myself.
I was feeling oddly patriotic – especially for someone who considers the Pledge of Allegiance to be overly nationalistic. But, this celebration had a sweetness to it that overwhelmed any of those jingoistic overtones. Children chased one another across a dimly-lit lawn covered in chairs and blankets. Couples held hands and stared skyward. For my part, I sat with old high school friends and laughed about the stupid mistakes of teenage years and the numerous dim-witted decisions made with fireworks in hand. We talked about just how far we’d come.
Chris Middleton, one of the aforementioned high school friends, reviewed the atmosphere as we returned to the bar following the festivities. “That’s the best environment for fireworks that I’ve seen in a long time,” Chris said. “This afternoon, as I was sitting on my couch in West Chester, had you told me I could be here right now, I’d have… wow!… it’d be perfect.”
That’s a simple truth I don’t want to take for granted. I live here, but it’s important to stay grounded and realize how lucky we are to call this home. I texted my wife, who couldn’t join us because she had to work, to share those sentiments, and to tell her I loved her. Yes, I was feeling rather emotional. That evening could only have been better had I the opportunity to share it with her. Again, another sentiment we shouldn’t take for granted: no matter where you were to witness the fireworks, count yourself lucky if you shared it with the one you love.
From the well-trimmed lawns and gardens of Congress Hall we made our way to Carney’s to make utter fools of ourselves. A note to the gentleman serving Jell-O shots: saying “it slips right down your throat and I’ll squirt plenty of whipped cream in your mouth” is not the best way to sell a guy on spending money for shots.