Our friends Paddy and Barbs came over for a braai (bbq)on Independence Day, 2021, and stayed the night because they live about 100 miles away. We were planning to go to the annual fireworks display given by our neighbors Jeff and Dwana. The problem was, they decided not to have the fireworks this year.
I went down to City Hall in our little town of Keystone Heights to try and buy armbands for admission to the town’s official fireworks display, but I was too late. They’d already taken them away and I was told I could probably get them at the time of the fireworks, but I didn’t feel too hopeful.
So, I searched on Facebook to see what was going on elsewhere in the community. This is what I found:
“RICHARD & KERI J****- ARE HOSTING THE 2ND ANNUAL 4TH OF JULY BASH PARTY CELEBRATION AT THEIR LAKE HOUSE ON – OLD FIELD POND LAKE IN KEYSTONE HEIGHTS FL . WITH GRILLED FOOD BY ANDREW BUTLER , AND HE CAN REALLY COOK YUM – SMALL CANNON FIRING ACROSS THE LAKE , FIREWORK SHOW, FULL BAR , FISHING , DANCING , BIG WATER SLIDE , SWIMMING , AND MORE , FUN STARTS AROUND 3:30PM – PS. DON’T FORGET TO BRING SHORTS OR BATHING SUITES IF SWIMMING OR WATERSLIDING ALSO BRING YOUR OWN CHAIRS TO SIT IN , IF YOU ARE FISHING BRING YOUR FISHING GEAR , FOOD STARTS AROUND 4PM COVERED DISH WELCOME – SPECIAL GUEST MUSICIANS – AND LIVE MUSIC WITH HEADLINING BAND – LAZY J. & COMPANY – FROM 6PM TILL 10PM – ——- – LAZY J. & COMPANY- HAD A BLAST LAST YEAR PLAYING THE 1ST ANNUAL 4TH OF JULY PARTY CELEBRATION – FOR RICHARD AND KERI JUDGE – AT – OIL FIELD POND LAKE – IT WAS SO MUCH FUN WE CAN ONLY GUESS HOW GREAT OR WHAT THIS YEAR HAS IN STORE BUT WE KNOW IT WILL BE – FUN FUN FUN FUN. “
We knew this would be ‘different’, which is always more interesting. So as it was getting dark, we duly headed over to the address provided not having any idea what to expect. Classic rock songs belted out when we arrived, and smoke billowed from somewhere – fireworks or food cooking, or both. The neighbor was standing on guard to make sure nobody blocked his buddy’s (another neighbor) driveway and we chatted with him for a while and parked in a place that had his approval.
At the party, we were welcomed by our hostess, Keri, who apologized that Richard had consumed too much moonshine and passed out.
We found a space for our chairs and sure enough, there was a full bar with a surprising choice of liquor, all laid out on a table under a canopy because it had been raining. We found out that the bartender, Chip, tended bar for our local Amvets Club.
People were playing cornhole—a game that involves throwing beanbags (filled with corn so maybe cornbags?) through a hole in a wooden stand. People danced to Lazy J’s music and drifted over in ones and twos to introduce themselves and chat a bit. Most of them were vets (Ex-military) and we couldn’t wish to meet anyone nicer. Kids played on a jumping castle, ran around yelling, and waved sparklers and a couple of teenagers swam in the lake.
Some kids held roman candles that were lit and shooting colored balls into the sky and over the lake. And a couple got away and shot into the cars. Nobody seemed to care.
The fireworks seemed to be unending, and continued to be lit throughout the evening over the lake, while other displays flashed and popped across the water.
We thanked our hostess and ended the evening at home with a glass of port and a bowl full of chocolates.
A few days later when a friend asked how our July 4th had been, I told her we went to a redneck party.
“Those are the best,” she said. “They don’t have rules and regulations.”