Sunday, July 13, 2008


The United States of America has never agreed on what it wants to be.
It's a rebellious country that at times welcomes immigrants and at other
times shuns them. I'm not sure what traditional Americana is, but I
think I've seen quite a bit of it recently.

The Independance Day celebration in Chicago brings hundreds of
thousands of area residents of many races and ethnicities to a food
festival and fireworks display on Lake Michigan. There is plenty of
ethnic food and music capped by a fireworks display.

Not to be outdone, Waukegan offered food, music, and fireworks too.
The 40 sailors in our group ate at a buffet provided by the Yacht
Club, which featured corn on the cob, fried chicken, and fantastic
cherry pie. Music was provided by a wind band, which played many
interesting and difficult pieces to the delight of the audience. Much
of the audience was of Mexican descent and I observed them enjoying
Sousa marches and twirling sparklers just as I did 50 years ago. I
think that is pretty close to Americana.

South Haven had its own version of Americana with a day-long
celebration on the Black River and the beaches of Lake Michigan.
Dinghies and larger boats floated up and down the river flying
patriotic banners. Cooking was going on in restaurants, boardwalks,
shores, and boats. The day culminated in a grand fireworks display.
More Americana.

It's easy to see Americana on Independance Day weekend, but does it
exit in a rust-belt state at another time. It does in Grand Haven. In
a single morning we saw a Salvation Army Band at the riverfront, a
rock band at a park, and a classic-car show on main street.

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