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Fourth of July was best day of summer

For one of the most patriotic communities in the country, the Miss-Lou lets the Fourth of July come and go with little fanfare.

Apart from the fireworks show later tonight, there won’t be any official Fourth of July events in the City of Natchez.

In the parish, attention this time of year is focused on the Lake St. John Flotilla, which is affiliated with the Independence Day holiday because it’s traditionally held near the Fourth.

The addition of a burn ban that includes fireworks this year should restrict personal celebrations in Adams County a bit — much to the delight of thousands of Miss-Lou dogs, including two at my house.

So, despite a few extra flags that will appear and 10 to 20 minutes of explosives over the river, our great community won’t collectively be very patriotic on the most patriotic of days.

As a child, the Fourth of July was one of the best days of the summer, at least to us children. I think my parents may have hated it.

My hometown always kicked off the morning with a parade, in which my church always had a float that required costumes and elaborate decorations.

It was, of course, always scalding hot, but when you are a child, you don’t care.

After the parade, there was time to cool off and eat lunch before heading to the city park for an afternoon of events, music and fun leading up to the fireworks.

I can remember singing with a children’s choir in front of hundreds of patriots wearing red, white and blue, watching adults go crashing down in the dunking booth, eating cotton candy and running up and down the hills of the park.

The night ended on a blanket struggling to keep your balance on the steep incline of one of the city’s biggest hills as the fireworks exploded overhead.

On my first Fourth of July in Natchez — nearly a decade ago — I found a red shirt and headed out with a friend to find the fun.

We were back home 15 minutes later questioning why nothing was going on.

It’s not like some folks in Natchez haven’t tried. In 2006, groups gathered on the Vidalia Riverfront and the Natchez bluff for Fourth of July events. A rainy Independence Day delayed those parties by several days and heat and humidity welcomed those who did come.

Crowds weren’t huge, and organizers didn’t repeat the events the next year.

Unless I’m forgetting something, the Miss-Lou celebrations since then haven’t grown beyond fireworks.

Maybe it’s just too hot here. As an adult, it is difficult to muster the energy to stand outside in 95-degree weather and watch a band play or the kids run.

Or maybe the tradition is found on the lakes and backyards in this community, not at a unified gathering spot.

Still, maybe the organizational efforts simply haven’t been right.

It was silly in 2006 to have events on opposite sides of the river. It won’t work, either, for one or two private businesses to handle coordinating and promoting the events.

If we want to be more patriotic next year — and perhaps we don’t — a community group needs to take over and spend a year planning.

The Miss-Lou loves its soldiers, old and young, because so many families have men and women who have served. We are innately patriotic because of that fact. Yet, our time and energy goes to other events year round while the nation’s birthday comes and goes each summer with only a few nighttime explosions.

Happy birthday America!


Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.