America and Togetherness: A 4th of July Celebration

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A 4th of July celebration at a Bronx park on Bronx Boulevard.
(Photo by Sushmita B. Jitlall)

By Sushmita Jitlall

Each year, Americans celebrate the 4th of July with joy and admiration for the United States, but what is it that they really care about? For one family, it is the togetherness this day brings, loved ones coming together and friends all having a great time.

At a neighborhood barbecue on Friday,  July 5th, in the Wakefield section of the Bronx, New York, a fourth of July celebration continued as a family came together and neighbors mingled with each other.

People from various states were there to have a great time and see fellow family and friends. It was a celebration of not only America’s Independence Day but also of family, friendship, and the joys that were being shared with each other. Although it was mainly focused on a large family, friends and neighbors were also invited to enjoy that afternoon’s festivities.

This backyard barbeque usually happens every year with the amount of people varying. It is planned ahead of time and “feelers” are sent out around June, although some guests say they found out about the event “the day before.”

Howard Buchanan has been hosting this event for several years. “One particular time, the July after we got the house, it was a bit bigger,” he said, about the turnout to the event. The party is held in Mr. Buchanan’s backyard as well as the rest of his property, so that everyone can spread out comfortably.

Every event has its best part and also things that are not favored as much but, when speaking to attendees at this particular celebration, there was a general agreement on what everyone’s favorite part of it was, all revolving around the topic of family.

A neighbor, Herbert Young, shared his thoughts on this 4th of July barbecue by saying, “the atmosphere is always cordial…it’s interesting to see how the family still carries on a tradition from the past.”

When speaking to some family members, their responses were similar in that it was about being with each other. When asked about her favorite part of the event, Erica Hemmings replied, “seeing family I haven’t seen in so long.” Stacy Holness said, “hanging with my in-laws.” Ms. Hemmings is a granddaughter to Howard Buchanan and Mrs. Holness is one of his daughter-in-laws.

Asked about specific events that stood out, Mrs. Holness laughed as she told a story about Ms. Hemmings’s father, who made jerk chicken one year. Mrs. Holness felt the effects of it. Ms. Hemmings said, “it could be spicy,” and Mrs. Holness continued to laugh as she said, “the Yankee girl couldn’t handle it.”

Another incident that she clearly remembered was when her husband was dancing with the next-door neighbor, and Mrs. Holness said to her “you know you’re dancing with my husband right?” but the neighbor paid no attention to that. It was all laughs and jokes throughout the day and into the night.

People circulated everywhere across the yard, some standing by the music set and hanging out around the DJ, others working by the two grills, cooking corn, hot dogs and burgers, and the rest just walking about or sitting on yard chairs catching up with each other. There was also a little water balloon fight amongst the little children.

Everyone had smiles on their faces and the sound of laughter at times overpowered the music. As Mr. Young put it, “it’s just a fun experience.”


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