While covering the 4th in Orinda, we learned that Orinda, Moraga, and Lafayette have informally merged into Lamorinda. The three bedroom communities, which, in recent years have tried to establish town centers may now have decided there's strength in merging, but the merge is just a demographic construct.
On July 4, the three burgs spoke as one.
What did they say? That people love tanks and U.S. flags, honor their war veterans, and remove their hats and cover their hearts over "the Star-Spangled Banner." Their three-town fete offered a community directory to the soul of a chunk of conservative Contra Costa County.
Parade spectators and participants wore their flags on their sleeves, while baring their souls.
Spawned by a half century of "white flight" to the burbs, Lamorinda flaunted its civic clubs, schools, and veterans groups.
Five hundred Lamorindians cheered the 10 a.m. parade. Too early for Berkeleyans?
Back in Berkeley, we watched a murky day threaten the view of fireworks at the Berkeley Marina. Past haze over the bay has deterred some Berkeleyans from the fiery spectacle by the bay. Berkeleyans may have been deterred, as well, by pushy crowds.
It was cold and windy, as we arrived at the Marina by bike, threading our way through tiny holes of thousands of pedestrians, who hogged the bike lanes on foot. We successfully fought the urge to blurt, "get the ef out of the way, m-efing tourists."
The Planet has urged me to cut back on the ef-youse.
Flags, patriotism, and civic identity were less visible at the marina, where as many as 20,000 thronged the bay-side sanctuary, converting it to a state fair of food and trivial pursuits. Police said they were ready for 50,000, and a big police presence showed it.
The whole mass of merriment came off without a hitch. Spectators were not daunted by cloud cover, having learned from experience that fireworks will shine through. That's why they call them fireworks.
Fireworks fans came from communities around the bay, most of them huddled near the pier, where they said they could watch Crissy Field, followed by Berkeley's costly pier eruption. A smaller, colder, hardier crowd gathered at the north side of the marina at Cesar Chavez Park, which earlier had hosted kite-flying, bungee-jumping, and an AK-47 replica B.B. gun shoot, forty shots for a fiver. "I just spent $20," the father of two told me, adding, "lucky me."
We noticed that some visitors might have rented rooms for the night at the Hilton's Doubletree Berkeley Marina to be near the action. After clawing our way out to get back to Berkeley, we understood why a $200 room at the Marina might be worth it.
We took cover from the cold winds in the shadow of the AK-47 shooting gallery tent, a spot we rationalized would produce hot shots, but may have been picked for its shelter.
Our accompanying photo-essay tells the story better than words.
Our South side reporter was eager to return to the natural fireworks in the hood.