Saturday, July 4, 2009

4th of July in Hermosa Beach

I just got home from a walk on the beach this morning.  I had hoped to get out before the reveling began but forgot about how long a day the 4th is here on the beach.  The young bucks were out strutting on the Strand.  Some were heading to play in volleyball tournaments on the sand closer to the Pier.  But most were heading north to 30th street, the site of the annual Ironman contest.

I usually do not like the crowds on the beach but there were few people on bicycles today, which typically freak me out as they fly by me. Today it was mostly young men with surfboards.  At first I wondered where the girls were but then I started to see the Sun Bunnies in their red white and blue bikinis, all looking strikingly the same.  I also saw a few women with numbers on their arms indicating they intended to participate in the Ironman contest.  One large group of guys wandered down the Strand with an American flag and some group had set up a very large flag on the beach using red, white and blue plastic strips and white styrofoam cups as the stars.  Despite myself, I started to feel good, and even found the loud music and shouts of "happy independence day" entertaining.

The annual Ironman contest involves running a mile on the beach, paddling a mile in the ocean and then pounding a six pack of beer.  Since it is illegal to drink on the beach with fines tripled on this holiday, this contest is not an official one although I have never heard of anyone getting
fined for participating.   My son did some videotaping of his friends who have a band that played last year and I found his picture on the internet from the 2008 Ironman as well as one of the more colorful costumes (see pictures at right-my son is man with backpack- and top left).

Ironman basically starts off the day of drinking which usually winds up by midday through the evening with wall to wall drunk young people crowding the Strand and the Pier area, standing up only because they are surrounded by so many others of their ilk.  I think if one falls, there is a domino effect. It is quite a scene.  The next morning, the Strand reeks of beer and other unpleasant aftermaths of a day of overindulgence.  For this independence of responsibility our forefathers threw down the gauntlet 233 years ago. However, it is better than being in a riot on the streets of Tehran.

Back on my street, one of the neighbors set up a pot luck breakfast and a bicycle parade for the children this morning.  So far we have not had any major fireworks in the neighborhood but it is still early.  My dogs freak out a bit with the noise but one of them is deaf so perhaps it will not be too bad this year.

Parking is at a premium so I am keeping my car parked in front and making my way around on foot today, planning otherwise to stay close to home.  Luckily my son will barbecue later and we can walk up to the store for the final requirements for that event.  Although I start out cynical about the excessive partying, I guess we should all be grateful that we are able to celebrate our freedom rather than struggle for it.  Happy Independence Day!!

ADDENDUM  There were two additional events of note that I learned about after I wrote the above.  First, the STDs, a punk band in HB, performed this year on the Strand on a moving stage powered by 3 burly boys pulling the stage.  My son served as the videographer, walking backwards for 12 blocks instead of riding on a camera dolly.  Only one moving dolly per performance.  Second, my son and grandson discovered a performance last night on the Strand that apparently takes place every year but is particularly poignant this year.  A group puts on a performance of a medley of Michael Jackson songs on a makeshift stage with lighting at 5th and the Strand.  The MJ imitator was dressed for the part with sequined glove etc.  My son said the crowd acted like it was a real concert, with swaying arms and dancing.  This after the fireworks in Redondo is a real treat not to miss.  Maybe next year.

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