Boston, like many big US cities, takes its July 4th fireworks seriously. As a prelude to the spectacular show over the Charles River, there is a concert of the Boston Pops and selected pop and country stars of the moment, broadcast over loudspeakers and radio. Hundreds of thousands of people attend the fireworks every year, so it’s pretty crowded.
Even on the water, dozens of boats large and small gather between the Longfellow and Harvard bridges to hang out, eat and drink, and view the fireworks from near the barge in charge of the show.
This year, some friends and I decided to join them. But we didn’t have big boats– we paddled out in kayaks. We, along with dozens of others, rented kayaks (which we booked months in advance) to paddle out into the river, in search of the perfect spot.
There were also people with their own boats there. Some of them were experienced kayakers.
Some of them were trying to figure out how to assemble inflatable boats they had just bought.
Most of our party of 7 had paddled on the Charles and elsewhere before, so we boldly set off to join the big boats in the central viewing area.
Boats of all kinds were out there.
One of the rules stated that any boat in the area between the bridges after 8:15pm had to be anchored. We didn’t bring anchors with us, but the kayak rental place sold us this for $10– a cinder block tied to 75 feet of rope. My friend Janet was the elected representative to tote the anchor out to our spot.
We tied it to my boat, heaved it overboard, and miraculously it worked; we drifted a bit, but maintained our spot (holding onto each others’ boats). Then we proceeded to sit back, relax, and wait for darkness and the show.
We had to wait a bit more than 2 hours, but it was worth it. We had ring-side seats– the fireworks were in front of us and above in perfect view. Oddly, they weren’t incredibly loud. We think this was because we were far away from the buildings and their loud claps of echoes. Here’s a bit of the show:
For me, one of the best parts was riding my bike to and from the river. The traffic leaving the fireworks show was, in its own way, as astounding as the show itself. But I was able to sail past the cars in the bike lane, getting home in record time.
What a celebration of freedom– under my own power to, from, and during the show!