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Jul 05

Independence Day

Happy 232nd Birthday America!  As I write this, I am recently back from the “Freedom over Texas” display in Downtown Houston.  While I’ve never attended the actual events at Eleanor Tinsley Park, I can take in the fireworks from a nearby venue that’s within walking distance of my apartment.

This was the first time in 5 years I decided to try my hand at photographing fireworks, to see if it could be easily done with the digital camera I upgraded to earlier this year.  I have found that it was not as easy as my previous camera was, partially due to the city lights creating a back light and making the long exposures I have done in the past difficult.  As this sample taken in 2003 at Shawnee Mission Park in Lenexa, Kansas shows:

Fireworks, July 4th, 2003, Shawnee-Mission Park, Lenexa, Kansas

With some tweaking, I was able to get some reasonable shots this year with the new camera, although not as spectacular as my previous attempts.

This brings me to my cheers and jeers (this post had to have a editorial, didn’t it?)

While the “Freedom Over Texas” has to be a logistical nightmare to set up and tear down, the City and sponsors should consider some changes.

First, from my vantage point, I could see cars parking on the Montrose/Stuedmont bridge over Memorial Drive/Buffalo Bayou.  At one point, an Ambulance was forced to drive South down the Northbound span, since the Southbound Span was blocked.  This is a serious traffic hazard.  HPD should insure that bridge keeps at least one lane on each span open, if not all lanes.

Publish the radio station that carries the music.  This was the first year (that I’m aware of) that a radio station carried the music that accompany the fireworks.  I saw it mentioned once on the television, but in no other promotions (Although Channel 13 is constantly promoted – but it’s hard to drag a television out to a grass field just to hear the music).  At the same time, my small pocket radio playing the music was being drowned out by others and their car stereos on other stations/CD’s, while the few in the immediate area enjoyed the synchronized music.

There’s more Patriotic songs out there than Ray Charles’ “America the Beautiful”.  Hip-Hop Music is not what I call Patriotic.  I’ve heard Ray Charles conclude the last four years of displays, give him a break. I had the opportunity to produce a performance of Patriotic Music, and easily filled a prepared CD of 70+ minutes with nothing but Patriotic songs. Many of the songs could easily have fireworks choreographed to, songs like Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”, the “1812 Overture” and others.

Let’s hope they can make some improvements for 2009.

If you’d like to see my fireworks, my 2003 set is here, while my 2008 set is here.

About the author

Michael Jones

Michael Jones is the founder of On The Spot Communications and On The Spot Blog.

A native of Ottawa, Kansas (approximately 60 miles South-West of Kansas City), he was born in the early 70's and lived most of his early life without traveling far from home.

He has since lived in Lenexa, Kansas (suburb of Kansas City), Houston, Texas, and now resides in Frisco, Texas (north of Dallas, Texas). He has had the experience of traveling to Tokyo, Japan and Tel Aviv, Israel, as well as numerous places around the USA.

A self-professed computer geek, when Michael's not working in his telecommunications job, he enjoys Model Railroading and Paintball.

Michael Jones is the founder of On The Spot Communications and On The Spot Blog.
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