The Roanoke Times and the City of Roanoke have outdone themselves in more ways than one for this year’s Music for Americans. The community event is one in which both sponsors usually do very well in promoting and executing. This year had its good and bad points.
After new-to-the-helm President and Publisher of the Roanoke Times Debbie Meade gave the opening and welcoming remarks, she turned it over to a Rev. Anne Something-or-other for the opening “prayer.” Now, I use the word “prayer” in as loosely a way as can ever be used. It seemed like the reverend was doing her utmost to avoid mentioning God in all of her “We give thanks” for this and “We give thanks” for that. I couldn’t help but wonder “To whom are we giving thanks?!” The reverend droned on for a godless eternity, being sure to be all inclusive and non-offending in her prayer of thanks. Ironically, the music program closed with a very good arrangement of “God Bless America” sure to stir the patriotic fires in any listener. I suppose that, if we were to be consistent in our all inclusiveness, perhaps the song should have been “Benevolent-Deity-of-your-choosing-or-not-choosing Bless America.” But that doesn’t have the same ring nor social acceptance, despite being closer to the truth, as does “God Bless America.”
The music program was very well done, as always. There was the usual mix of classical stuff (Sousa, Salute to the Military, etc) as well as some older, more hip pieces such as the Village People’s “YMCA” and other songs designed to get folks on their feet and dancing. And dance they did. Young and old alike could be seen swaying, dancing, and moving to the different styles of music. It’s really quite a wonderful sight to see young teens appreciating the music of past generations. This just reinforces my belief that music is ageless and never dies. Perhaps the only complaint I would make was the extreme volume of the sound system. We were sitting in the middle of the field and it felt like we were being blasted out. I pity those poor folks up front who traded in their eardrums for a better viewing position.
The fireworks show was the best part of the night. Kudos to the company putting on a spectacular show. Divided into two distinct launching areas, it was almost two separate shows. The first one even had a grand finale of sorts that was magnificent. In fact, several times I thought “Surely this is the grand finale” only to have the show continue. This was by far the best fireworks show I’ve seen and had me wondering as we left “How in the world will this be bested next year?” But, I'm sure they will, as they somehow manage to do every year.
On a more personal note, all three kiddos seemed to really enjoy the fireworks – even Natalie! She sat on my lap for about half of the show, babbling and cooing at almost every sequence of lights. Later, Jeremiah climbed on my lap and whenever a big firework would go off, he would point to it saying “Ooooooohh,” laugh and then bury his face on my shoulder. It was very cute. All in all, we had a great July 4th. Hope you and yours did, too.
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