One of the greatest things about living in San Diego is that there is always plenty to do, especially around the holidays. One of my favorite holidays in San Diego is the Fourth of July. This year was no exception. We chose to celebrate Independence Day the old-fashion way, at the Old-Fashioned Fourth celebration at Old Poway Park. People with homes in Poway know that their community is a great place to party, and visitors will surely agree.
The Fourth of July is a time for reflection. It’s a time to think about our past: about the American Revolution which made everything possible for the United States of America, about the Civil War which furthered the cause of liberty in our country, about the Transcontinental Railroad which tied California to the East Coast, and about the struggles and achievements in our more recent past, like those lived out by our grandparents and their parents during the Great Depression and World War II. All of these memories came to life in Poway this past Saturday.
The Fourth of July fun in Poway began around 10am. People dressed in period costumes like Civil War soldiers, old western cowboys and hoop skirted ladies, red and white candy-striped musicians, and even old Uncle Sam in his top hat flooded Old Poway Park with color and with colorful personalities. Craft booths were spread throughout the park to allow children to create American Flags, star-studded noisemakers, and other patriotic mementos. Volunteers manned the booths to help and encourage any children who wanted to participate.
Several Poway clubs set up booths offering food and sweets at historically low prices. Snowcones were $1, Ice Cream Sundays $2, and full lunches with freshly grilled hot dogs, chips, baked beans, and a drink were just $5 for adults or free to children and veterans. No one went hungry at this Fourth of July celebration, and no one really checked tickets for the hot dog lunches anyway.
One very interesting booth was staffed by Civil War soldiers who were eager to discuss their 19th century armaments. Safely unloaded replicas of the Enfield Percussion Rifle, the Springfield Musket, and the Burnside Carbine were just a few of the weapons on display. The friendly “soldiers” where more than happy to put the guns into the hands of anyone who was interested in getting a better feel for their military heritage. The soldiers also rehearsed and safely fired a Civil War cannon on several occasions during the day, putting quite a boom into the celebration.
The music was also outstanding and appropriate. Bands set up on stage beneath the covered gazebo in the center of the park. The Dixie Strutters, dressed in festive red and white candy stripes, played gloriously with a highlight banjo performance by a 94-year-old gentleman who’s “still got it” to say the least. Nanette and the Hotsie Totsie Boys followed with some outstanding early 20th Century jazz and swing. Nanette with her flapper dress and wonderful voice can really get a crowd humming. Jack Johnson & the Hank Williams Trio followed with a wonderful country music performance.
Throughout the day, the trademark Baldwin Steam “Engine No. 3” made its whistling rounds around the park with a steady stream of passengers. Every other trip would stop beside the working blacksmith’s shop to enjoy the theatrical performance of train robbers in a shootout with the western marshals who foiled the holdup every time. Before leaving we stopped to pose for a photo with Uncle Sam, who couldn’t have fit the role more perfectly.
In the evening there were more than 20 fireworks around San Diego to choose from. There were fireworks in Poway also just up the road in Rancho Bernardo. But we have a favorite fireworks location. From the cliffs beside some Del Mar homes we were able to see multiple fireworks displays along the coast. Watching fireworks and smelling the ocean air was a great nightcap to a perfect day in Poway.
Poway prides itself for its small-town atmosphere. Situated between the neighboring San Diego suburbs of Rancho Bernardo to the North, Rancho Penasquitos homes to the East, and Scripps Ranch to the South, you can’t help but feel that there is something unique about Poway. The Fourth of July at Old Poway Park was a great illustration of what makes the community special. It is the good people of Poway who welcome strangers, who take pride in their past, and who work together to make present-day San Diego a better place to live.