It was the first time I celebrated July 4th in America like a true American, and I can say with certainty that it was a fantastic day!!
I am currently visiting my family in Bradenton, Florida, and my daughter Alexandra and her friend got us tickets to a baseball game at the Lecom Park Bradenton Stadium. The game featured semi-professional baseball players and ended with a spectacular fireworks display in celebration of Independence Day.
The day was scorching hot, typical of Florida weather. People started arriving at the stadium hours before the game began, and everyone was in high spirits.
People of all ages were dressed in colorful attire, donning American flags on their hats, as well as the hats and t-shirts of their favorite teams. The stadium was filled with loud music, and the mascot entertained the crowd, particularly the children.
Before the game started, the announcements caught my attention. They made it clear that misbehavior would not be tolerated, and anyone throwing objects onto the field would face arrest. I couldn’t help but think that they should make similar announcements at Greek soccer stadiums as well.
As the game got underway, the stadium gradually filled up. I was given a hat representing the team I was supposed to cheer for (since I didn’t know who was who), and the commentator did an excellent job keeping everyone engaged. The National Anthem was sung, and the game commenced.
Our seats offered a great view, and I thoroughly enjoyed my first-ever baseball game. Having watched my 9-year-old grandson play in the All-Stars league, I quickly grasped the rules and found myself getting excited during intense moments of the game.
Observing the people around me, I made two realizations. Firstly, people attended baseball games for the complete experience, not just the game itself. They rarely stayed seated for more than 15 minutes at a time. There was a constant flow of people heading to the food court for hotdogs and other snacks, returning for drinks, candy, and souvenirs. It felt like a bustling beehive with continuous movement all around.
Secondly, I came to the conclusion that no one knows how to put on entertainment like Americans do. From the moment you enter the stadium parking lot to the moment you leave, everything is meticulously planned to entertain you while gladly relieving you of your money in the most enjoyable way possible.
After the game ended, with my team winning, they invited everyone onto the field. The lights were dimmed, and a magnificent fireworks display ensued, lasting exactly 10 minutes. The children and adults alike went wild with excitement. It was truly a wonderful sight to behold.
The next day was spent by the pool, continuing our family day. We indulged in typical July 4th junk food, including overloaded hotdogs, and took a nighttime drive around the neighborhood, where the fireworks continued late into the night.
All in all, it was a fantastic day, and I now feel officially part of the American experience as a citizen. Happy July 4th, America!!