Thursday, July 5, 2012

Down By the Water

Every year on Independence Day, there’s a big fireworks display down on the river*. Literally down on the river, since the fireworks are set off from barges near the U.S.S. Kidd. The fireworks are at 9 PM, but there’s a day long festival with bands, activities for children, food vendors, and whatever else organizers can come up with.

July 4, 2008

This year we had a mock air raid on the Kidd staged by World War II vintage airplanes. The planes put on quite a show, complete with wing waves and a flyover in the missing man formation. A Navy cadet group manned the guns on the Kidd.

I missed the Baton Rouge Concert Band this year. Years ago, they held Independence Day concerts on the steps of the State Capitol Building. When Baton Rouge first got the U.S.S. Kidd, the band moved its concert to the area near the Kidd. They played their signature piece, The 1812 Overture, using the carillon from the First Baptist Church and the guns from the Kidd for the cannons. 

U.S.S. Kidd

I hope that if you haven’t so far, you someday get to hear The 1812 Overture played using a real carillon and real cannons, or the equivalent (not firing live ammo, of course). There is nothing to compare.

Since then, the band had played its concerts on a stage on the levee near the Kidd, but this year they went back to the State Capitol. We could have done both, but it would have meant a long walk.

The fireworks were accompanied by a sound track that included Celine Dion singing God Bless America. Nobody should ever be allowed to sing God Bless America except Kate Smith. Especially not Celine Dion, but really, nobody else. I’m serious about this. Yes, I know Kate Smith is dead, but there is You Tube. Make do.

*What do you mean “what river”? The Mississippi River, of course. Is there another one?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Not only should Celine Dion not be allowed to sing "God Bless America," she shouldn't be allowed to sing anything in English. What drives me nuts is when these young performers "gospel" up the National Anthem, or "countrify" it, or noodle around with the melody. It should be sung exactly as written (to the tune of a drinking song which, if you could not hit the high notes or remember the words, they poured you into a carriage and sent you home). I cannot hear "God Bless America" without thinking of the child's version of the lyric, "Through the night with a light from a bulb." There is a school of thought that maintains that the Wagneresque Ms. Smith was the proverbial "fat lady" whose singing indicted that whatever it was that wasn't over until she sang, was over.