10:30 pm last night marked an important even Up North: the (blessed) end of the 2012 Cherry Festival. Cherry Festival is a wonderful thing for Traverse City and the surrounding areas, at least as far as tourism goes. The events are generally wholesome, even if the midway food is not (which did NOT stop me from having both a funnel cake AND cotton candy!), and the carnival entertainment provides a good selection for those 32 inches through 32 years (and beyond). Plus, carnival workers were helping clean up the area today – unbidden – after the festivities, which I thoroughly appreciated (and joined in on). A+, Arnold Amusements!
BUT, thanks in no small part to nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes being voted as Good Morning America’s Most Beautiful Place in America last year, we have seen a huge uptick in visitors. I think that normally I could deal with this gracefully, but add in the sweltering temperatures we’ve been slogging through, and I fear I’ve become curmudgeonly. Perhaps this is why I interpreted last night’s visual extravaganza as a giant farewell instead of a celebratory last hurrah.
Okay, maybe I’m being a bit harsh. I suppose it could have been both 😉 The show really was spectacular, as was last year’s. We walked to the beach from Jim and Jess’s, and parked ourselves on a not-too-packed section of sand right on the water. More families joined as the 10:30 deadline inched nearer. A few large fireworks blossomed over the water, but everyone knew the show was really on when the cherry fireworks – yes, cherry-shaped and colored – exploded.
Instead of wincing at the smack of too-close blasts, we were greeted with somewhat-muted detonations and the occasional metal-meets-water jangle as the salvos bounced off of the neighboring bridge. Thunderous concatenations satisfyingly thumped our chests as we feasted on the prismatic buffet and delighted in the crackle of self-congratulatory applause that I am certain a few fireworks voiced. For half an hour we were mesmerized by the luminescent panorama over the bay.
The show came to an end as all such displays do with an impressive crescendo and grande finale. In addition to the classic chaotic cannonade, Cherry Festival fireworks ended, as they began, with cherries. Everyone packed up their beach gear and sleepy children, and the Traverse City locals breathed a collective sigh of relief at having survived another Cherry Festival – perhaps even with a little grace.