Lullaby of Chinatown

Within the perimeters of Canal & Bowery, exists a country within a city. In the shadow of neon signs flashing Cantonese and Mandarin, are many treasured wonders.

Exotic fruit, which have the appearance of quirky, avant-garde art, delights all senses. The sweet scent of miniature pancakes infuses with escaped fish from the sea. Chinese fans, ceramic dragons and Buddha’s, provide a much-needed kitsch.

In the midst of Chinatown’s charm, four New Yorkers embarked on an odyssey. Firstly, I must take the flying DeLorean to last year (hello, Back to the Future reference). Fasten your seat belts, folks. Please be aware of the exit row. Here we go, its lift off time.

It happened last year on the rooftop of a quaint building, in close proximity to Washington Square Park. Yours truly and some of my people waited in anticipation for one magnificent sight. That glorious Kodak moment was in the form of fireworks. Hello, Fourth of July, said I. As the darkness embedded Greenwich Village, the anticipation built.

Boom, boom, boom went the fireworks. With great dramatic momentum, our eyes searched the night sky for those beloved-flashing lights over the nearby Hudson. The sound effects persisted, but the fire works were nowhere to be seen. I looked at my friends in puzzlement. “Where are the fireworks? They’re supposed to be visible from this vantage point, aren’t they? asked I.

We waited a bit longer. Still the imposing apartment buildings of the West Village shielded us from that most Fourth of July tradition. Instead of feeling disappointed, we watched the fireworks on television. It was quite lovely, but not the same sensation (as seeing them in person).

A few weeks later, I strolled the Upper West Side. While walking toward the 72nd Street subway, I heard a familiar, boom sound. I peered into the night sky over Broadway. Fireworks dominated the ornate Upper West Side sky. This was in celebration of Bastille Day (French independence day). The sight was quite magnificent. I declared, “vive la France.” My desire to see fireworks on the Fourth of July only intensified.

Let’s take the DeLorean back to this year. While my gal pals and I didn’t see the candy hued lights over Manhattan, last year, we made it a mission to actually see them this year.

In the depth of an empty Chinatown, we set out on foot to see the glorious show. Even as experienced New York walkers, we were baffled on where to see the show, which was on the East River (this year). We took a side street down and as the Manhattan Bridge appeared, our mission had been accomplished.

At last, we found the perfect vantage once we reached the East River’s Edge. “This is it, we’ll finally see the show,” I declared. Hoping that nobody extraordinarily tall would hover in front of me, I waited in anticipation. Then that familiar boom was heard. The fireworks commenced. They lit up the sky from the near-by Brooklyn Bridge. “Oh, aw, wow,” said the onlookers.

I too was in awe of the sparkly sky. At that moment, I appreciated seeing the show in living flesh. It would become one of my all time favorite New York memories. I was so very impressed with the pomp and pageantry of great American tradition.

Afterwards, we topped off the night, Lower East Side style. As wine was sipped, we thanked our lucky stars for a most memorable Fourth of July.

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