A brief history lesson:
Despite conflict with the British government in the 1770s, the colonists were reluctant to secede from the mother country. In a final attempt at resolving their issues, the colonists extended an Olive Branch Petition to the British Parliament. Basically, the colonists agreed to stay a part of Great Britain if:
1. Parliament discontinued a policy of “taxation without representation"
2. Parliament provided seats for colonial ambassadors to give input
3. All of the current taxes were revoked (mainly the Tea, Coercive and Quebec Acts)
The release of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” -- declaring that, if people were unhappy with their government, it was only fair that they overthrow it and rehabilitate it -- combined with Parliament’s refusal to accept the Olive Branch Petition heightened colonial unrest and ultimately resulted in the…(you guessed it!) Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Jefferson left out one thing: the right to fireworks! According to ehow.com, the first official July 4 celebration was held in 1777, one year after the colonists declared independence. The day was celebrated with “the firing of guns, cannons, bonfires and fireworks.” Not until 1941, however, was July 4 declared an official, national holiday. Interesting stuff.
Getting to the meat of this, fireworks are an integral, beautiful and even inspiring part of Independence Day festivities (unless you’re my Wheaten Terrier, who barks at them angrily while hiding from them under the piano bench). All of this said, I thought it would be nice to list a few local places for Westwoodians and other Westsiders to catch some fireworks beyond the well-publicized show locations.
1. Rancho Park along the Motor Avenue side: for years, hundreds have lined up here with folding chairs, beach towels, blankets and hot chocolate to watch the nearby show at Hillcrest Country Club. This is completely free, you can see the explosions with 100% clarity and I’ve been going to this since I was a baby. It’s a pretty awesome community affair.
2. San Vicente Boulevard: Brentwood Country Club (between, approximately, Bundy and 26th) has a fireworks show for its members, and this stretch along San Vicente runs parallel to the club. I’m sure that Westside residents can get decent views of the club’s fireworks.
3. Warner Ranch Park: A short drive from the Westside to Warner Center beholds a public fireworks show at Warner Ranch Park in Woodland Hills (5800 Topanga Canyon Boulevard). If you can’t make it to the park (or maybe you’re visiting friends in the Encino area as my family did to see this show some years back), the fireworks are clearly visible from atop Mulholland Drive.
4. The Playboy Mansion: The Playboy Mansion has an annual fireworks show…and in all honesty that’s all I know. The house is on Charing Cross Road south of Sunset Boulevard, so I’d bet that there will be some great fireworks glimpses around that neighborhood.
5. Malibu: There are a host of private fireworks shot off of barges in Malibu, all of which will be visible along Pacific Coast Highway. These are close in proximity to either the Malibu Lagoon or Carbon Beach. In my opinion, a drive down to the beach on a summer night sounds like the perfect atmosphere for July 4 celebrations. You might even get some seafood beforehand. A couple of my recommendations: Reel Inn and Gladstones.
I will follow this blog post on Wednesday night with some cool pictures from Rancho Park.
For another handful of fireworks options for Westside residents via the Patch,
For a definitive list of fireworks shows, both public and private, in the Los Angeles County area from the Los Angeles Fire Department, click here.