A Rainy Fourth of July

Over the weekend, I thought about going to Washington, DC for A Capitol Fourth. I’ve gone twice before, so it wouldn’t have been anything new, but I’ve been feeling the creeping need of late to spend time in, as they like to call it on CBS’ BrainDead, “this town.”

But the weather forecast for the evening didn’t look good. Rain in the DMV. And the idea of sitting on the Capitol lawn in drizzle or, worse, a downpour lost its appeal.

Something closer to home, then?

The Harrisburg Senators were at home! Baseball and fireworks! This had promise.

So, I wrote editorial copy for the office in the morning — deadlines don’t wait for national holidays when the office is closed — and, about four o’clock, I got ready for a Fourth of July night on City Island. My patriotic blue Bryce Harper Nationals jersey, a patriotic Curly-W baseball cap (the giveaway at a Fourth of July Nationals game several years ago), a red undershirt. Yes, that would do nicely.

It was still quite drizzly when I reached City Island at 6 o’clock.

No, the word “drizzly” isn’t right. There was a nice, steady rain. And I bought a ticket for a silly place, my favorite place at FNB Field, a seat in the bleachers on the first base side. No cover from the rain there.

The game clock ticket down inexorably to 7 o’clock, but the rain didn’t abate. The tarp on the infield stayed in place.

I didn’t see any reason to take my seat in the bleachers yet. Yes, I had a towel draped over my shoulder, and it was getting a little damp, but until the rain stopped there was no reason to sit in place.

Behind the outfield wall, the fireworks were set up.


They stressed over the PA system and on the ribbon boards that, no matter what happened with the game, there would still be fireworks.


At seven, an announcement was made.

Shortly thereafter, another announcement was made. The game was being postponed altogether. However, the fireworks would still be on at 9:20, and at 8 o’clock, they would be showing A Capitol Fourth.

Many people began to leave. They didn’t want to wait in the rain two hours for fireworks. I couldn’t really blame them. Much of the grandstand cleared out, so I went ahead and took a seat near the top, until the cover, and settled in to watch A Capitol Fourth when it started. I wasn’t the only one; there were about four hundred people huddled in the upper rows of FNB Field as the rain picked up on City Island.


Someone asked me if the fireworks display here would be “spectacular.” I couldn’t really answer him positively. I wasn’t surprised when he and his wife left.

The Senators’ PA system played various patriotic music, especially John Philip Sousa marches. I cannot hear “Semper Fidelis” without hearing the Animaniacs song with Pinky singing about the cheeses of the world.

Then, at 8 o’clock, A Capitol Fourth started.

Naturally, I snarked on Twitter.

I’m no fan of “God Bless America,” as I explained here; not only does it exclude the non-religious, it has become weaponized patriotism. Woody Guthrie didn’t like it. And New York Daily News columnist Gersh Kuntzman wants baseball to retire it.

And when they played the “1812 Overture”…

After nine, the lights dimmed. It was time.


Of the Senators’ display, there is little to say. It started at 9:20, ended at 9:30, was accompanied by a selection of Sousa marches (“Stars and Stripes Forever” and “Semper Fidelis”).

The last glow of their fireworks had hardly faded when the city of Harrisburg’s began. Those of us who stayed through the rain knew the city’s display had begun as the stadium was rocked by the echoes of the explosions. We could see nothing — they were launched from somewhere north of the stadium, behind the grandstand, perhaps from a barge on the Susquehanna — but the booms rocked us all.

Loud, sudden, unexpected noises make me jumpy, the result of a long ago car accident with a drunk driver. For a few minutes, until I could gain a vantage point away from the reverberating explosions, FNB Field was a nightmarish hellscape that was surely as bad as the Western Front in the days leading up to the Somme.

Harrisburg’s fireworks wete quite nice, by the way.

This was a Fourth of July to remember, that’s for sure.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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