I experienced my first Fourth of July in 1976 in Los Angeles, California. I was almost of 12 years old and visiting with my father and sister, and I had no real clue about the holiday or that it was the bicentennial. And while I knew that the Fourth of July celebrated American independence, I had yet to experience a celebration of the holiday in the U.S. At the time I was living in Mexico and the Fourth of July meant a big fair at the American School, with booths and businesses giving out freebies like pens and brochures, bands playing music, all kinds of games and food and drinks. It was a fun time, no doubt. But it wasn’t a real Fourth of July.
That bicentennial year in California we went to a park and I saw the bandstand (nothing like the gazebos in pueblos in Mexico) all decorated with the red white and blue. The park was clean and calm. It was nothing like Mexico and more like something in a movie. I expected the characters from “The Bad News Bears” to walk onto the field and start playing baseball. It wouldn’t be until five years later, when we moved to the U.S., that I understood the tradition of going to the park, grilling burgers, listening to rock and roll, and then kicking back at night to watch the fireworks.
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