A baseball game on the 4th of july

There's something so inherently American about eating a hot dog at a baseball game in the middle of summer. The crunch of peanut shells beneath your shoes. Hawkers selling Cracker Jacks sauntering up and down the aisles looking for their next customer. Quiet moments of the crowd chattering interrupted only by the occasional crack of ball against bat and "oohs" and "ahhs" as the ball soars across the field.

The leisure of an afternoon at the ball park is filled with nostalgia for a time we didn't experience, a simpler time. Before people met on Tinder, before cellphones and dial-up Internet, before season 19 of The Bachelor and Spiderman 12 (or whatever number they're on now), there was baseball. America's past time. Going to a baseball game in 2015, one can't help but think of those afternoons past, and although the snacks have changed and the ticket prices increased, for those three or four (or five) hours in the stands, everything seems like the good old days.

"Suuugar on a stick." - Cotton Candy man.

This past fourth of July was my first in New York City, and as Independence Day weekend approached, I grew more weary of the dreaded question "what are you doing for the 4th?" Growing up my fourth of July plans were always easy - if I wasn't at the beach with my family I was at a friend's place for a barbecue, or swimming in the pool at my aunt and uncle's house. But after just 10 months in the city, I had no idea how I wanted to spend such a hyped-up, culturally significant holiday. Do I try to find an Instagram-worthy rooftop bar? Do I trek through the tourists to Central Park to watch fireworks in a field of screaming children? Or do I just sit at my apartment and watch reruns of Friends, eating store-brand ice cream and pretending nothing's going on around me? 

A few days before the holiday my boyfriend mentioned that his hometown's minor league baseball team, the Williamsport Crosscutters, were going head-to-head against the Brooklyn Cyclones at their stadium in Coney Island (he didn't quite use that phrasing, but I think it makes it sound more exciting). It took less than 5 seconds for me to make up my mind: I was going to be at that game. 

Our afternoon at MCU Park was one of enjoying the little things. The simplicity of a Nathan's Famous hot dog, a bag of peanuts, and a Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale. The sentimentality of a few verses of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and "Cotton Eyed Joe" ringing from the speaker system. The all-too-familiar sound of a passionate baseball fan shouting at the refs from the back of the stands. Being in one place, with no responsibilities, for even a few hours, was a welcome break from the constantly-moving, hustle and bustle of graduate school in New York City, and it was the perfect way to celebrate a holiday meant to remind us of our nation's rich history. 

Thunderbolt Roller Coaster // Luna Park, Coney Island

A timeless snack.

The game ended fairly quickly, and because the fireworks show wasn't scheduled for another hour,  we were subject to a full 60 minutes of entertainment provided by King Henry - the goofy, car salesman-esque host and one of the mascots of the Brooklyn Cyclones. We were witnesses to a karaoke contest (choice of song: Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline"), a Nathan's Hot Dog race in which three people dressed in hot dog costumes (Mustard, Ketchup, and Relish) ran around the baseball diamond towards the finish line, and several interludes of country music to fit the night's theme of "Country Night" (let's just say country music has a very different definition in the Northeast than it does in Texas).

At 9:30 the fireworks began, accompanied by the usual playlist of Americana anthems; an older woman sitting next to us clasped her hands and smiled as she gazed at the fireworks exploding over the shore, a bickering middle-aged couple sitting next to us moved seats several times until they found just the right spot for viewing the show, and every kid in the stands was wide-eyed and in awe of the bright flashes of light streaming into the sky. 

A Williamsport Crosscutter slides into home plate against the Brooklyn Cyclones.

The Brooklyn Cyclones mascot - Sandy the Seagull - throwing tee shirts at fans. And being generally creepy.

When in Brooklyn...

It's odd how these colorful, chemical explosions can seem so peaceful, so quiet. And although watching fireworks feels like a cheesy, end-of-the-movie kind of experience, I always find myself appreciative of these few moments of contemplation. Maybe it's because fireworks are associated with joyful celebrations - of our country's independence, of a new year, of another successful day at Disney World - or maybe it's because hundreds of people cease their fidgeting and quiet their conversations to take in the experience, but I will always turn into a 4-year-old kid during a fireworks show. I stare in awe of the bursts of color, I try to put together which boom was paired with which explosion, and at the end of the show I always catch myself wearing a faint smile. 

It was the most American fourth of July I think I've ever experienced, and it was most certainly one for the books (and the blog). 239 looks good on you, America. Here's to 239 more.

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Annamarie // July 4, 2015