Our first Fourth of July in New York (2009) was just so very, very New York-y. It was hot, and exhausting, crowded and busy, but it was fantastic.
I had watched the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on television before, but can't say that I ever imagined myself attending such an event. However, when I realized that this contest was held at Coney Island (a part of NYC we had yet to visit), we knew we had to try to make the trek to Brooklyn to see it for ourselves. We arrived early and waited in the midst of the thick crowds in the brutal sun for two hours, because we are dedicated people. (I can't say I would have been sad if I had remembered sunblock, but, alas.)
Eric in front of the board counting down to hot dog time!
As we waited, we were treated to all sorts of freak show-esque entertainment, and that was before people started stuffing their faces with hot dogs at record speed. My favorite part of the whole thing was probably the introductions of the contestants, as they outlined each feat of eating in which the competitor held the record. Some of them were just crazy, and inspired much "who would do that?!" and "that's really a thing?!" commentary on our part.
On a historical note, the 2009 Contest was the last in which the famous champion Takeru Kobayashi competed. He lost to the American, Joey Chestnut, who ate a record number of hot dogs (68 in 10 minutes!) - a record that still stands. It was disgusting to watch, and quite over the top, but it really is something to be there to witness history, you know?
Top row: Takeru Kobayashi working the crowds during his introduction; the line of contestants gobbling up hot dogs
Bottom row: Joey Chestnut proudly celebrating his victory; us in front of the stage after the crowds cleared out
VIDEO: 2009 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
The Cyclone roller coaster; our hot dog feast; and Shoot the Freak
After our lunch we went home to rest up, and later that evening went back out to catch the Macy's NYC Fireworks on the Hudson River for the first time. We were so exhausted after our day in the sun at Coney Island, but we figured, hey. We live two blocks from the Hudson, where they will be putting on one of the premiere fireworks displays in the country. We should probably just go to that.
And so, we did. It was insanely crowded but we had a great spot to witness a beautiful display.
Crowds gathering for the fireworks; us waiting for the show to begin; and fireworks!
I couldn't help but get choked up as I stood there, watching this fabulous fireworks show, after such an incredible day in New York City. I was just filled with gratitude for where life had brought me and could not believe how lucky I was to be living in such an incredible place.
So, this incredibly New York-y Fourth of July takes its place on my countdown as yet another day in our four years here that left me overwhelmed and in awe of this city and how blessed I have been to call this place my home. It may seem strange that a place boasting freak shows and people stuffing their faces with hot dogs in the most disgusting manner would bring about this kind of response, but the heart wants what it wants, right?
To read the full account of our first New York Fourth of July, click here.