First of all, Happy birthday, America! I celebrated your big day last night (on the 3rd) at Red, Hot, & Boom. If you were able to follow me on Twitter, you would have read that I had VIP tickets to the Embassy Suites tent sponsored by Omaha Steaks. There, I enjoyed a sumptuous feat of lamb, seafood pasta, a variety of salads and desserts. I ate at a table with Altamonte Springs mayor Pat Bates before we moved out to the masses. (I can’t wait to see the final estimate of how many people were squeezed into the narrow area known as Cranes Roost…wow!)
We got there just as Matt Nathanson came on stage, and unfortunately while our tent had closed circuit TV of the stage, it had very poor sound. So, while he looked like he was giving a good show, I actually have no idea. By the time we got out, my son and friend had gone toward the stage to see Kevin Rudolf. Their review of him? “Awesome!”
Then came the band I wanted to see: We the Kings. The stage, being set in the middle of the lake as it is, makes it difficult to see anyone too well but I think lead inger Travis Clark did a good job projecting and communicating to his distant audience. They did a fabulous rendition of Jimmy Eats World’s “It Just Takes Some Time” before ending with “Check Yes Juliet.” Now it was my turn to review them: “Awesome!”
And on to the main attraction of the fireworks. Altamonte Springs does a nice job of “Disney-like” audio to accompany the fireworks. They had a mix ranging from Prine’s “Purple Rain” to Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.” My personal favorite was the “Jaws theme song” going into Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” where fireworks literally launched from the water itself. Very cool effect! (And, thanks to Guitar Hero, my son’s generation actually recognizes these songs!)
The only drawback? Too many people in too small a space! How many sardines can you pack in one can? (Still waiting to hear the final estimate from City of Altamonte Springs.) The hours-long traffic created a parking lot all through the Altamonte Mall, Cranes Roost, 436, and surrounding neighborhoods. After waiting 45 minutes on the top of a parking garage and not seeing one car move, we parked it and walked about a mile to where we had somebody pick us up. We made it home only to then receive a phone call from friends we left on top of the parking garage–they hadn’t moved yet! Ugh! Still, I’ll probably do it again next year. 🙂
Now, just twelve hours later, the EVENT OF THE YEAR is starting! Okay, so this isn’t in Central Florida, but in my book, it still counts because I am watching here in Central Florida: The Tour de France. I have watched the Tour since the early 90’s while in college at the University of Florida. My husband and I would meet friends at the Copper Monkey and watch it there. (It was one of the few bars that had satellite TV.) We spend each afternoon for nearly a month watching each stage. (At that time, Lance seemed like a nobody and dropped out more than one.) Later on, I listened to the Tour on the internet, buffering and streaming it live while calling in updates to my husband at work.
Now, we watch it live on VS Channel(102 on Brighthouse)…coverage is in the morning and takes a while because they ride for like 4 hours each stage, but with the commentary of Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwin (and their English accents) it’s fun to pretend you’re in Europe watching it. (Oh, and Bob Roll is a major dweeb! His goofy commentary reminds me I still back here in the States!)
Now, why is this Tour my event of the year? Simple–Lance Armstrong is returning to ride! And, what makes it even more impressive, he is doing it as a volunteer. He is waiving the normal salary of a rider (which can be in the millions) and is content to ride to spread the message about Livestrong. Simply amazing!
Okay, the time trial are starting, so I’m cutting myself off…enjoy your fourth of July! And, viva le Lance!