By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina
“A ticket to see fireworks? Don’t you just, uh, look up?” That was my friend Kathy’s comment when I mentioned Vlad had made the long, hot trip downtown in a thunderstorm to pick up our tickets for the fireworks.
Normally, she’d be right: For the past few Independence Days, we’d gone up on the roof, or just looked out from our window on the 17th floor. Even in New York, some things are free!
But these weren’t just any fireworks. This was the first time ever they’d be in the lower East River—even be launched from the Brooklyn Bridge! And our friend John, who, like Vlad, is a photographer, would be in town expressly to take photos, and we needed to find an uncrowded location for them to set up their tripods.
So when one of our kayaking friends, Nancy, forwarded an email from the South Street Seaport Museum that tickets were available for Piers 15 and 16, we jumped on the opportunity, even though the tickets were a bit pricey.
What we didn’t realize until later was that we’d be part of the show: We ticket-holders were the audience of NBC’s live broadcast. We were instructed to wear “patriotic colors”. (A British citizen, Vlad wondered if that meant he needed to be attired in the Union Jack!) And we were given little goodie bags containing American flags, and white pom-poms with red-and-blue flashing LEDs. Plus Cracker Jacks. (Remember those? My bag was open and nearly finished before the sun even set.)
For me at least, the fellow spectators were actually the best part: Everybody was friendly, relaxed and cheerful. (And in a very un-New York way, trusting: I ended up guarding one photographer’s multi-thousand-dollar camera while he ran a quick errand.)
Here are some of Vlad’s photos (click on any photo to start slideshow):
These and a few more photos are here.