July 4th started off quietly for me in New York City. The coffee cart was not on its usual street corner near my hotel, in fact there were no food carts to be seen. It was raining lightly and there were few people to be seen – a stark contrast to other mornings. As I crossed Times Square to get my formal ticket for the Harlem Gospel tour, I noticed a group of people gathered around the “Good Morning America” team who were broadcasting live. Despite my best efforts of being part of the telecast, I think that I was well hidden behind all the umbrellas!
My family gave me a ticket to do the Harlem Tour which included a visit to the Harlem Gospel singers and a meal at Sylvia’s restaurant which specializes in soul food. Four tour buses left Times Square – each bus carrying persons of different language speaking countries. After a memorable service with the Harlem Gospel singers, a small group of 20 attended the restaurant for the meal.
As we seated ourselves, two gentlemen attired in white suits walked through our eating area, wishing us a Happy July 4th. We were told by an excited waitress, that one of those gentlemen was a Congressman. I sat next to four people who spoke little English – they were from Spain, Portugal and Italy. However, that did not stop us holding an animated and humourous conversation amongst ourselves, with miming helping to carry the meaning. Two other party members were videoing the tour as part of an effort to upload video content to an online website that promotes and sells webtours. That was rather fun, being able to sit down with so many nationalities, share experiences despite huge language difficulties and be able to enjoy each others company. The soul food consisted of southern fried chicken, pork ribs, greens, a rice dish, corn bread, fish and potato salad – quite tasty!
Expecting to see lots of clothing tributes to July 4th, I was somewhat disappointed to see little of it being worn. Later in the afternoon, I met up with Sue Waters and her son, Liam. We spent a pleasant time at Grand Central Station and checked out the Apple Store there.
Walking back towards Times Square, we met up with Kathleen and Nate Morris. After a quick meal, we walked to the Hudson River to get a position to see the fireworks! Some told us to get there at 4pm to ensure a good viewing station. However, the weather was extremely hot, so we arrived at 7:00pm. Roads were closed and all viewers went through bag security checks. It is said that there were millions of people along the river waiting and watching. The 2 1/2 wait was long and severe. A reasonable space was found by us where we could sit and wait.
But after 30 minutes, we were all told to stand up to make way for more people. The heat and lack of air made it rather uncomfortable. However, it was good to be with Sue, her son Liam, Kathleen and Nate as we were able to spend time sharing our experiences whilst travelling.
Although the fireworks were interesting, it is hard to justify that long wait and sense of discomfort. We left before they finished in order to avoid the mass departure of the crowds.
It was great to spend July 4th in New York City. National days are are times of pride and cause for celebrating!