Monthly Archive for July, 2013

Our First Independence Day celebration at Dallas’s Fair Park

This was our second Independence Day celebration since we moved to Dallas, but our first to go watch fireworks. Not knowing the too much about how the annual celebrations look like here in practice, we thought that one can’t really go wrong seeing “the city fireworks”; plus, entrance to the celebration was free. We were going to go with a friend who unfortunately had to bow out the day of due to a late deliverable at work.

Planning how to get to and from the celebration without a car took some effort. We figured it would be too crowded to deal with a car, but public transit should be alright, especially a train. Since the nearest station is not walking distance, I decided that we will park Downtown in a covered parking, and take the green line DART train from Akard to Fair Park. We brought lawn chairs, though we debated whether it was worth our while, but I think eventually it was proven to be worth our while. Thankfully, we were able to bring in our own water bottles. I wore sunscreen and a ball cap, but it didn’t feel like it was necessary starting at 7:30 pm Downtown. We worried that we may regret not having bug spray, but bugs did not bother us all night.

Our Green line DART train appraching Akard Station.

Green line DART train appraching Akard Station.

When we got to Akard station, I purchased us two Day Passes. After about a 10 minute wait, the train arrived, and most seats were taken after our stop. At the next few stops, many more passengers and kids got on to make it standing room only. At Deep Ellum, a seemingly nice name but with bad body order stood next to us until our destination.

When we disembarked the train along with the large crowd, we had to wait for the train to move, so that we could cross the tracks and walk towards the Fair Park. There was one police officer watching all of the people walk in, mostly checking for what they were carrying, but he did not stop or talk to anybody. We made a round around much of the park, down alongside the 700 foot reflecting pool toward the Hall of State where in front a stage was set up. We perused to identify a good vantage spot for the fireworks later and to evaluate what sort of food vendors were on site.

After walking around toward the lagoon with swan boats, we stopped at one vendor near the Cotton Bowl main entrance who was selling ice cream sandwiches where I ordered a Nutella and almond ice cream wrapped in two “hot cake” cookies that tasted like pancakes. It was an overload of sugar, and I got some of the melting ice cream on my shirt and camera case. We walked back around to the reflecting pool, near the entrance to the park. We purchased a couple of beers and set down our chairs to wait for the show to begin. We were surrounded by a significant crowd in our area, and some individuals had to sit down on the concrete because their feet were hurting. I’m glad we brought chairs, and it wasn’t too hard to carry both chairs the entire time leading up to then.

The fireworks show began a little bit late. Allegedly the show was timed to live music, but I we were too far away to hear anything. We were one of the few people sitting, and many standing were blocking our view slightly, but we saw enough. As soon as the show began, the large swarm of people adjusted their standing location, walking past us, because some of the pillars, trees, or monuments were blocking their view. I thought the fireworks would go higher into the air, but from our vantage point, the fireworks got up between pillars and buildings. I thought the fireworks show was a little thin, which later my observation was supported by a news report that half of pyrotechnics did not launch.

Immediately after the show, people started walking to the gate. I honestly started to get a bit worried how we will get home in such a crowd, which I extrapolated could last for at least an hour. Fortunately, it was relatively under control. Nevertheless, we walked back to the Fair Parks DART train station where it was like a mosh pit at a rock concert. The train arrived on time, and it approached the station extremely slowly probably because many people were standing too close to the edge of the platform.

Crowd swarming train at Fair Park

This is just a portion of the massive crowd attempting to enter the train.

People flooded the train, and yet still the vast majority remained on the platform. I was disappointed knowing that the next train was not supposed to arrive for another 30 minutes. So, we turned around and walked back into the park to use the bathrooms. At least 15 minutes have passed; we walked back to the station where a Red line train pulled away with people. This surprised me because only the Green line goes this way. Shortly thereafter, a green line appeared ahead of schedule. I also noticed DART busses running as Shuttle Busses, and my interested piqued trying to understand where those are running, many of which were mostly empty.

We got on the Green line back to Akard. It felt a little weird because the voice that announced the stations was turned off until about Pearl station. At our stop, I tried to be vigilant, but it was kind of deserted. A large party walked behind us, and a squad car and what probably was an undercover car were parked in a parking lot talking, so the walk back to the garage felt safe.

The beer and the massive amount of sugar upset my stomach. I also really wish there would have been some announcement on the DART website that there was going to be special event service running because that would have lowered my stress about getting home.