July 4th: Fireworks, food and fellowship

Posted on Jun 26, 2014

Jun 26, 2014

Join Us for Family-Friendly July 4 Fireworks Party

The Founding Fathers may not have imagined watching fireworks from the top floor of a 20-story building with an elevator powered by electricity, but at least one of them imagined celebrating the new nation’s anniversary with a pyrotechnic spectacle. The night before the Declaration of Independence was adopted, John Adams penned a letter to his wife.

“The day will be most memorable in the history of America,” he wrote. “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade…bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.”

Smart dudes, those Founding Fathers.

“Illuminations” was then a term for what we now call fireworks. The Nashville City Club’s tradition isn’t as old, but members and non-members alike will gather at the night of Friday, July 4, to watch Music City’s sky light up far from street level. Admission includes a karaoke contest with cash prizes, an all-you-can-eat buffet and drink specials and fireworks party at 9:30 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Tickets for members are $34.95 + tax & gratuity (members’ children are free); guest tickets are $44.95 + tax and gratuity (guest children $10 each).

Fireworks have been around for more than 2,000 years and predate the invention of gunpowder. Historians believe pieces of green bamboo thrown onto fires in ancient China sparked the first firecrackers. Air trapped inside bamboo expands when heated and explodes through the plant wall, making a startling noise.

From there, Chinese people used the technique to frighten away spirits, then to mark special occasions. “Illumination” probability unfolded by accident between 600 and 900 A.D. as alchemists tinkered with sulfur-laced mixtures trying to create an elixir of life. When the material caught fire, it burned hot and bright. Eventually, someone figured out that stuffing green bamboo with this new “fire drug” produced an explosive combination.

This convergence of chemistry and metallurgy took two very different paths – one to the development of gunpowder, then cannons and rockets and one to the development of fireworks for display and celebration.

For the latter, we can thank the Italians. About 100 years after Marco Polo brought firecrackers back from his travels, as the European Renaissance took hold, the Italians developed fireworks into a true art form.

Here at home, the first 4th of July celebration was in 1777, only one year the Declaration of Independence was signed, just as John Adams had suggested.

So join us Friday to help celebrate tradition, old and new.

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