The thousands of people who came to Columbia's downtown lakefront to celebrate Independence Day fireworks were treated to a textbook example of the best laid plans gone wrong.
First, there is the question: why did those in charge decide to celebrate one of our most tradition-filled holidays, on July 3, a day early? I'd like to think it was because they thought it would give people the opportunity to see two fireworks displays -- the one in Columbia and their choice of many others around the state on the real Fourth of July.
However, I suspect Sunday's debacle had more to do with misdirected inspiration, and a growing malaise about values, and upholding long-standing traditions.
But, putting all that aside, it still was a horrendous decision to go ahead with Sunday's fireworks display.
Just before 9 p.m., a nasty thunderstorm moved in. Because of the storm, a lot of people, myself included, didn't begin the trip to the lakefront because we assumed the fireworks would be postponed.
Many of those already there began the walk home, or retreated to their cars to wait it out.
When the fireworks display suddenly began at 9:10 p.m., instead of the announced 9:30 start, the lakefront area was experiencing a drenching thunderstorm. I didn't believe it when my kids came running into my basement office to tell me the fireworks had started.
We had been looking forward to the annual event, so we hopped in the car and drove to the mall parking lot, where I hoped we could see the show from the car and manage to stay dry.
On the way to the mall lot, I noticed that others abandoned their cars on edge of the roadway, scrambling into the pouring rain in search of a spot where they could catch a glimpse of the colorful bursts.
Columbia had its fireworks, but more than just a few people were upset. And obviously, a lot of people thought the fireworks show would be canceled, since the announced rain date was July 4.
Although the initial explosive bursts of color were bright, the falling rain quickly squelched the flickering beauty of burning contrails. To say the fireworks display was less than dazzling would be an understatement. At times, the lightning flashing through the night sky was more spectacular.
As fate would have it, the next evening, the sky was clear and the temperature was comfortable. Yes, it would have been a great night for fireworks.
An excellent summer program for children, ages 6-13, is being offered by the Howard County Youth Mission at the Running Brook Neighborhood Center.
The six-week enrichment program, which offers math, science, cultural awareness and athletic competitions, began yesterday and will run through Aug. 12. Space is still available.
The registration fee is $25.
For additional information, please call Kent or Sonja Blake at 730-6075.
Put on your overalls, tuck in a big bib, pop that Stetson on your head, and come on down to Oakland at 5430 Vantage Point Road from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 30 for an old-fashioned Country and Western Barbecue, sponsored by the Town Center Community Association.
This country cookout will feature barbecued beef, chicken fajitas, lots of salads, plus beer, wine and soft drinks to wash it all down.
This is a sure-fire fun fest, with lots of good food. Tickets purchased in advance are $12.50 for adults, $6 for children age 7 and under. You'll pay more at the door.
For more information, or to order your tickets, call 730-4744.
Flea markets are fun, and this Saturday is the day of the big indoor flea market at the Florence Bain Center, on Cedar Lane. Market hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
And, if you have just cleaned out the basement, attic, garage, or a closet or two, and have some items too nice to throw away, rent a table at the flea market and turn those throw-aways into cash. Tables are still available for $10 and $15.
For more information, or to reserve a table, call 313-7213.