When you’re really young, it’s hard to top Christmas on the list of favorite holidays. Santa, Jesus, the presents, the magic…that’s going to be the apex for just about every five-year-old in America.
I was certainly in that group at that age, but it didn’t take me long to switch my favorite holiday to Independence Day. Relaxing, watching baseball, and grilling out are all part of my ideal day, and those are key ingredients to the 4th.
Franklin family July 4 tradition stretches back decades. Starting around the time I was 12 or 13, we’ve always gone out to the Yukon Freedom Fest at Chisholm Park. It’s a really cool setup with good food, good fireworks and good people. The thing that got us started going there was the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, which has performed there every year as far as I can remember. They start playing as twilight turns to dark, finishing as the fireworks start.
As always, the day started with me grilling out. This was the first time I can remember grilling something besides hot dogs and hamburgers as the main course. Missy and the kids had eaten those items a few times already over the previous few days and wanted something different. So we marinated some chicken and I grilled it up, and I must say it was delicious. For the second or third year in a row, I grilled up some zucchini and squash from our backyard garden. Brush some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on there and it’s the perfect complement to the chicken. Missy also made up some baked beans, pasta salad, peach salsa and cookie bars. We like to eat in the middle of the afternoon and then head out to Yukon.
I thought I was going to miss the end of the Cubs game, and I suppose technically I did, but they were winning about 12 to 3 when we left the house so I felt pretty comfortable with that. Those are the kind of games you don’t mind missing the end of because if they had somehow blown that lead I wouldn’t have wanted to see it anyway.
Missy always has the kids dressed up in special patriotic outfits, and while getting some groceries on July 3 at Wal Mart I decided to get into the spirit with a $4 patriotic tank top purchase. Missy enjoyed my participation.
Once we get to Yukon, we always stake out our turf near a specific pond in the southwest corner of the park. It’s close to the Philharmonic with a good view of the fireworks. The kids and Francine love to put their feet into the pond, where the turtles like to give their toes little nibbles. This year Francine also brought some cool mini rockets the kids could fire into the air (they use rubber bands, not actual rockets). They found a little pasture near our setup to play with those.
Of course it wouldn’t be July 4 without a hot dog eating contest, and they have one in Yukon. I lifted the kids up on my shoulders so they could watch a dude eat 14 in 10 minutes. It was the dude I predicted would win before the contest started. Personally we didn’t partake in any hot dogs, but I did down 20+ ounces of homemade root beer somebody was selling. It was probably even better than the State Fair root beer, which is a high standard. The kids got free ice cream and watermelon.
The Philharmonic was as good as it always is, and the fireworks were even better. They got rid of the ones that just make a really loud noise and do nothing else. I never did like those (crochety old man alert).
The long haul of lawn chairs, waters, blankets and snacks back to the car is always interesting, but we made it without incident. I was very happy that my mom was able to get around without much trouble barely one month after her hip replacement surgery. She’s really doing great.
Of course, by the time we get home and get the kids in bed, Missy and I have to unwind a little. Of course, that means eating leftovers. Feeling completely stuffed and exhausted is the sign of a good 4th, and we had another good one in 2019.