The city of Boston definitely knows how to celebrate Independence Day. To start, there is a week-long harbor fest, which began last week on June 28th. There is also the annual Esplanade concert, which draws millions of locals and tourists to Boston. There is nothing like the excitement of participating in these events.
In 1981, my boyfriend, Pete, and I were determined to attend the Esplanade concert and experience the thrill of hearing the dynamic Boston Pops orchestra live and feeling the excitement of the crowd up close.
We went from Weymouth to Braintree station, eventually taking the red line to the Charles Street station. We did not bring any rain gear because it was a beautiful and warm July evening and the added weight and hassle seemed wholly unnecessary. We received some assistance walking up the narrow flight of stairs and over the walkway to the Esplanade, where we sat next to some friendly people on the grass, enjoying conversation and the concert.
As we relaxed, hearing classical and popular pieces, excitement began when the majestic orchestra started performing the 1812 overture. However, that excitement was quickly stunted when we all felt unexpected drops of rain, which quickly turned in to an outright downpour. People sitting next to us saw our predicament, and offered us a large plastic poncho to shield ourselves. We thanked them for their kind gesture, because we would’ve been soaked and miserable otherwise. With the poncho, though, we could enjoy the rest of the concert and fireworks. The same people assisted us to our subway train after everything had finished. Their kindness that night will stay with me always, and without it, our night would’ve been ruined.
In 1982, we decided to attend the new chowder fest at Quincy Market in Boston. We had sighted assistance to guide us along and tasted chowders from ten local restaurants. Pete’s German shepherd was a big conversation starter as people guided us to the stands. Chowder was given to us in paper cups, with ice water and a generous amount of oyster crackers. Everyone had to vote on the best tasting chowder–a hard decision to make for sure.
For us it was a choice between the New England clam chowder served at the Parker House or the lighter full-bodied chowder with juicy clams served at the New Long Wharf Restaurant at the new Marriot. As we sat outdoors at Quincy Market, I knew that this was going to become a new tradition for me.
A few years later in 1986, my friend Tom and I, with two other blind friends, went to the annual chowder fest, which was now in a tent-like affair between Quincy Market and the City Hall plaza. This chowder fest did not go as smoothly as the previous ones.
For starters, there was not as much room to maneuver between stands which made it difficult to get around. My friend Tom, who has some sight, was trying to pass a cup of clam chowder to me, but our hands missed and hot chowder spilled on my clean top and shorts. We all laughed this embarrassing mistake off, but I knew I should have been more attentive. After successfully cleaning up, we all ate lunch at Tia’s, an outdoor restaurant at the Marriot. While everyone seemed quite comfortable in the summer air, I couldn’t help thinking that the heat was a bit overbearing, having received my unexpected chowder bath.
It is not only the festivals and concert I attended, but the celebratory atmosphere, that made spending Independence Day in Boston so special. If you are traveling to Boston or live nearby, venture into the annual chowder festival or attend the Esplanade concert. If you can travel on the MBTA, it makes getting in and out pretty painless, too.
How do other Ziegler readers celebrate Independence Day in their towns?