Danielle McLaughlin: Expat gets a double celebration - a Cup victory and 241 years of independence
OPINION: Kiwis are no doubt champing at the bit to welcome the Team New Zealand boys home next week, fresh off their rout of Oracle Team USA in Bermuda. Even from afar, this proud expat notes that a victory parade is slated for Thursday. I would love to be in Auckland to welcome the boys home.
As you'd expect, many American yachties are in the doldrums right now. Particularly those in the up-scale boating communities of Newport and San Diego. But Tuesday is July 4th – America's birthday. And, by God, Americans will celebrate – with obligatory fireworks, and ubiquitous parades.
Across this nation, cities and towns will close traffic to Main St and hang red white and blue bunting and American flags from windowsills and lamp posts. There will be corral floats and marching bands and dance troupes and beauty queens in convertibles. They will parade (often a mile or less) past throngs of other happy Americans – who will be sitting easily in folding chairs, or standing with children on their shoulders, pressed up against the parade route rope.
The oldest July 4th parade in the United States is held in Bristol, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1785, just nine years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. In a curious convergence of events, Bristol's parade this week will be held just 40 minutes north of the New York Yacht Club's base in Newport, Rhode Island.
The New York Yacht club famously defended the America's Cup from 1857 until 1983, losing it on the water off Newport to the Royal Perth Yacht Club's Australia II, which beat Dennis Conner's Liberty in the seventh and final match of the regatta. The Auld Mug, ensconced for over a century in a glass case in the New York Yacht Club's Manhattan headquarters, made its way to Newport that year, only to be handed to the Aussies who took it Down Under.
Speaking of New York City, the biggest July 4 fireworks display in the United States will be exploding over the East River on Tuesday. I watched it last year from my balcony with friends and family, glad of the incredible view and shelter from the rainstorm that swept over picnickers on the river's edge just minutes before the fireworks began.
This year, we will turn to small-town America – the seaside hamlet of South Jamesport on Long Island's east end. I suspect the fireworks on offer will be more modest, although the celebratory mood will undoubtedly match her much larger neighbour to the west.
Americans and New Zealanders will celebrate with parades this week. Both expressions of national pride, for events some 241 years apart. I'll be on summer holidays, enjoying the fireworks, celebrating my adopted home, and raising a glass to Team New Zealand – as just one of a million expat kiwis, bursting with pride.
Follow Danielle on twitter: @MsDMcLaughlin
- Sunday Star Times