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July 5,2009

Every year we brave the crowds and head down to Castle Island to watch the USS Constitution fire its guns, turn around in the harbor, and dock back in the Charlestown Navy Yard.  This year we decided at the last minute to head down to the waterfront near the ICA to see if we could watch the event away from the 10-15,000 "locals" who pack themselves into South Boston.

We got to the waterfront around 11:45AM.  The USS Constitution should have already turned around at Castle Island and be making its way back to the Charlestown Navy Yard.  We had no trouble parking.  The walkway was empty of people.  Our thought was that we were too late and had missed everything.  Actually, we arrived at exactly the right moment as the flotilla was just coming into view.

The USS Constitution was flanked by tug boats, protected by the US Coast Guard, and surrounded (at a distance) by various pleasure boats.  At one point the USS Constitution stopped and fired for a 21-gun salute.  It was amazing to hear the sound echoing off the various downtown office buildings.

The masts of the USS Constitution must be currently under repairs as most of them were not on the vessel.  Here is how it looked in 2007.  Clearly the vessel is a lot more majestic when it is fully rigged.

The other part of Boston's 4th of July celebration is the famous BSO concert and fireworks on the Esplanade.  This event usually draw close a 250,000 person crowd.  It ties up traffic at various parts of the city all day long.  We got an early taste of it when we tried going back to the office via Storrow Drive.  The road had already been closed so the crowds can gather in front of the Hatch Shell.  Folks were also starting to claim their patch of grass on Memorial Drive, but lucky for us, it had not yet been shut down to vehicular traffic. 

Since we managed to avoid the Castle Island crowd in the morning, we decided not to fight the fireworks crowd on the Esplanade neither.  This year we went to the top of Peter's Hill in the Arnold Arboretum to watch the light show. 

A small crowd (150-200?) had already gathered on the hill by the time we arrived.  The BSO finished the 1812 Overture around 10:35PM and the sky lit up in the distance.  Considering we were about 5 miles or so away from the downtown action, the view of the show was better than expected.

From the Peter's Hill vantage point, the fireworks were nice, but not immersive.  We still managed to capture some reasonable shots of the display.  If you really love fireworks, this setting may not be enough to satisfy you.  However, if you are in Jamaica Plain area and don't want to endure the 2 hour trip home from the Esplanade, then it is a fantastic option.

What we have shown yesterday was there were a lot of fun July 4th events in Boston.  One can enjoy them with a big crowd or enjoy them in a less dense setting.  You just need to know where to go :-) [Permalink] - No Crowds

BTW, the last photo above is a Photoshop composite of some of the different fireworks from the evening's show.  It was a fun little Photoshop project which we'll show you how to do in a future article.


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