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Independence Day—in Austin and beyond

Written by , published July 7, 2008

4th of July fireworks displays never cease to give me a rush of excitement and ooh-and-ahh wonder. Despite the crowds and heat, I viewed this year's spectacle from the Ann Richards/Congress Avenue bridge in Austin over Auditorium Shores. I fully expected the usual teeming crush of humanity, and was not disappointed.

Part of the show for me comes from observing the crowd, and the easy sense of camaraderie from the folks around me, including many families with small children. I take delight in hearing the kids' tiny squeals and screams, almost as much as the ear-shattering booms looming ahead. From the bridge looking east, we could also see the massive pyrotechnics reflecting back from the Omni Hotel downtown—truly electrifying! People of all shapes, sizes and types were rushing by foot, bicycle and vehicle to pause and take in the spectacular show. A soldier in fatigues pushing a stroller with his wife close ahead passed me by. I was touched upon seeing them and felt grateful for them that he was home to celebrate with his family and the rest of us.

This was the first time I've come to see the fireworks "on-site" since I moved here exactly 26 years ago. Austin's rolling hills allow for many excellent vantage points around town. Over the years, I've witnessed this mega light-show from hilltop residences and street corners to hi-rise buildings and parking garages—even the parking lot at Barton Creek Mall.

Back to scanning the crowd—I wondered how many were out-of-town visitors. I also have many fond memories of Texas town July Fourth fireworks displays while vacationing, from the bayfront in Corpus Christi, and from a condo balcony on South Padre Island. And of course, away from the city nothing beats lighting your own—for me it's on the beach in Port Aransas.

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