June 7th, 2012

 Fireworks, the Fourth of July, and a sky-high giveaway

I fell in love with fireworks the same time I fell in love with Patrick. The first weekend we ever met in person, we went to an international pyrotechnics exhibition in Toronto, choreographed to symphony music.  I remember sitting in the grass beside him, watching the colors explode across the sky, feeling like I was watching the interior of my own bursting heart.

I fell in love with the Fourth of July much later, in the same gradual way I came to love the nation it celebrates.  Like Thanksgiving– that other, once baffling, now beloved American tradition–it has become something I enthusiastically anticipate each year.

It’s become our family tradition to spend the day at a private lake in the country, where a friend puts on a magnificent picnic and fireworks display. The kids get to set off bottle rockets and light sparklers. The moms hijack the paddle boat and float it out to the middle of the lake to talk and drink wine in peace, intermittently shouting, “WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU. ASK YOUR FATHER.”  The dads eat and drink and count children. We drive home late along the winding country lanes, mosquito-bitten and sunburned, the sound of explosions accompanying us all the way home into the suburbs, city by-laws be hanged. God Bless America.

Last year, the annual party was held the weekend before the actual Fourth, so the boys and I thought we’d try our luck at catching the spectacular Independence Day fireworks show that happens over the river in downtown Little Rock every year. Only, we didn’t want to have to deal with downtown parking, crowds and traffic, so I thought we’d watch from The Big Dam Bridge, upriver, instead.


As it turned out, the bridge was not just upriver from the fireworks, it was several bends in the river up from them. It was a topographical teaching moment.

This year, the Little Rock Peabody Hotel came up with a much better idea: they invited us to watch the show from their beautiful downtown rooftop deck that overlooks the river, and let them handle parking and dinner. I’m grateful I’ll be in Canada with the kids, because it saves me serious conflict. As much as I love the party at the lake, the Peabody rooftop has a special place in our family history as well: Patrick and I had our wedding reception there.

No problem, they said, offering us a rain check in the form of an overnight stay for Patrick and I later this summer, if I would be willing to let my local readers know how to get tickets to the Rockets from the Roof event, and give away  a VIP seating package for four (tickets for two adults, and two children under 12; kids 5 and under eat free). Yes, it seems like a no-brainer, but I had one very stringent condition:

I get a photograph of me making duck face with the ducks.

Really. It’s non-negotiable. This is social media. I have standards to uphold.

In the meantime, I’m so happy to get to pass this fun opportunity along. If you would like to be entered in a random draw one week from today, June 14 at noon CST, please leave a comment on this post, sharing a Fourth of July or fireworks-related tradition or memory. If you are not in the local area and can’t take advantage of the giveaway, I’d love to hear your stories anyway! Just let me know in your comment that I should leave your name out of the drawing.

P.S. Seating is limited to 200, to keep it fun for everyone, so it’s suggested you purchase tickets soon. If you win the giveaway, the purchase price will be reimbursed. Also, I asked about families that don’t match the magical marketing number of four (like ours–always a peeve for me in giveaways), and additional tickets can be purchased to accommodate “extra” kids, grandmas, and bffs. Good luck! . 🙂 


19 Responses to “Glorious.”

  1. Lori Holmes says:

    My son had life saving open heart surgery at 2 months old on July 4th, 2008. That night we watched fireworks from the window of his CVICU room. Since then, we celebrate not only our freedom on the 4th, but also our son’s new “freedom”.

  2. Jennifer Noel says:

    I would love to begin a mommy-son 4th of July tradition. We have an interest in fireworks from a far and a slight fascination with sparklers. What better place to start that tradition than on the rooftop of the Peabody? Sometimes as children our firework childhood memories consist of loud, scary firecrackers and screeching noises so it would be fantastic to have my son in a child friendly, safe environment to see that fireworks can be fun and exciting! We would absolutely love to attend!

  3. Dan and I, appropriately enough, honeymooned over a Fourth of July more than a decade ago. From the seat of our rented moped, we watched the sky above the Atlantic drip fire. When the show was over, we sped away into the night, limbs—and lives—intertwined.

  4. debbie stain says:

    Ever since my daughter was lil she thought the forth of july firework display was for her and so it started the tradition of her haven cake and ice cream on fourth for her birthday needless to say 16 years later I still celebrate the fourthas her very own. It would make it so much better from a roof top of the beautifull peabody

  5. Melissa Mc says:

    You can’t top watching July 4th fireworks from the top of The Capitol! No, not the state capitol — the National Capitol in Washington DC. Mike and I were dating, and his best friend worked for a state senator. We walked up these ancient stairways thru the Capitol and on to the roof. This was all pre-9/11 — I’m sure this is forbidden now — but for one glorious night, we had a view of The Mall that rivaled the White House. there is a picture somewhere with the three of us on the roof — I’ll probably never, ever find it.

  6. I’m not local, but we’d totally make the trip. My husband and I had our two-week date on the 4th. (Remember being young and in love and clocking off dates in weekly increments?)

    Probably my favorite fourth of July memory, though, is the summer before I was a senior in high school, my family went to visit one of my dad’s sisters in Maryland. She drove us into DC, and we sat on the capitol steps and watched the fireworks. A homeless man sat next to me, sang Queen songs and ate a flattened cock roach that he pulled from a copy of Huck Finn.

  7. Last year, I wanted my son to experience Little Rock river fireworks complete with patriotic music provided by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. My husband said NO WAY was he battling the traffic and sitting out in the heat, so I decided that this would be a mommy-son adventure night. I packed a blanket, a few snacks and off we went to the North Little Rock side of the river. We found parking after a few minutes and walked several blocks to the park along the river. On top of a berm we secured a spot where, nearby, other families with elementary aged children were waiting for the show to start. My son ran up and down the little hill with a girl nearby and she taught him how to roll down the hill. As night set in and the symphony’s music cranked up, we snuggled up on the blanket and watched the night sky light up with amazing colors. His face was illuminated by the starbursts in the sky and I chalked up another “adventure” in our book of life.

  8. Lisa says:

    Yay! Sounds like fun! Our firewords tradition involves homemade ice cream, burgers, and illegal fireworks in the backyard, detonated by my pyromaniac husband. Good times.

  9. Kelli Marks says:

    We never really had any traditions, but when I was in high school, my mom remarried a man who was retired military and on the 4th, he brought some ‘not so standard’ fireworks. One was basically a light grenade. It was so bright that all the street lights went out. He passed away last year and it’s one of my favorite memories of him.

  10. rmj says:

    Fourth of July Fireworks was always a big tradition together as a family growing up. It still brings our family back together. Would love to be at the Peabody with my husband and enjoy it together for more fantastic memories. Happy Birthday America!

  11. Marti J. says:

    Last year was my best, spent the entire day with my parents. My Dad’s health started declining shortly after and he passed away recently. It was the last really great day Daddy had. Great Memories for me.

  12. rmj says:


    Great post by the way. I especially liked, “the moms hijack the paddle boat and float it out to the middle of the lake to talk and drink wine in peace…” Love it.


  13. Theresa Key says:

    I remember (and miss dreadfully) having a big extended family potluck dinner in my cousin’ s backyard. Then watching the show as the guys shot off the conglomeration of fireworks that we had gathered together. I loved sitting by my great aunt and listening to her tell stories of days gone by. My Mom is now 80, and I would love to win this and take her and my 2 nieces….so they could make the same kind of memories talking with and listening to her. That would be an amazing time for each of us.

  14. Bridgett says:

    We always went to the area around the zoo. I loved going.

  15. Cindy Bemis says:

    Our friends have a place way out Hwy. 10 and they throw a big open house chowdown with fireworks, watermelon, and lots of cold beer. One year there was a Potato Gun shoot out with grown men launching spuds using homemade weaponry—quite the “pissing contest” and one hell of a lot of fun!

  16. Can I stop crossing my fingers yet?

  17. Laura Jennings says:

    The post is a great chronicle of your Fourth of July. Thanks for the ad – I can’t wait to go next year for a good time watching the fireworks in the sky.

  18. […] for two was a gift from the Peabody Little Rock, in exchange for letting people know about their rooftop cookout event last Fourth of July. Neither Verizon Wireless or the Peabody Hotel Little Rock are responsible for […]

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