While my fiance Sarah Martens and I looked up to see fireworks light up the sky and faces along the Maumee and Perrysburg shores of the Maumee River the good time wasn't possible without "scouting."
We learned several tips about Fort Meig's "Star-Spangled Banner" event for when we visit again, but I'll get to that later. The main goal from when we arrived -- way too early at 6 p.m. -- until the fireworks started to pop and sparkle at 10 p.m. was to find "the perfect spot."
The only reason I say we got there too early is, well, we're too old for carnival rides. We also don't have any children to take from ride to ride, and I'm much too broke to be spending money on delicious funnel cakes. We were unprepared; we didn't bring a picnic or to-do activities of our own. So we spent hours scouring abour Fort Meigs, and its surrounding area, looking for the best possible spot to take in the bright explosions in the sky.
I didn't know how important this achievement was to Sarah until she started telling me the different prospective areas for us to watch the show.
"Everyone is a scout today," she joked as she pointed to a good area.
Several of my ideas got shot down. One stone bench was too close to the wooded area where there would be more bugs. At area on the lawn, the view would be blocked by the Fort Meigs Monument; another section of the Fort Meigs grass was too damp. It was like Goldilocks and the three bears' porridge, only we weren't finding anything "just right."
We even took a hint from the Fort Meigs director Rick Finch on a good place to see the fireworks. He was there with his dog Oliver. Mr. Finch expected 5,000 to 10,000 people to attend (and they all were looking for the best spot too).
Then, finally, wee found a stone building near the south-east side of the fort where we could sit, a place with a perfect view of the fireworks...it wasn't too populated, it wasn't in the grass (we forgot a blanket). It was just right.
That brings me to my next point: things we messed up on and will be prepared for next year.
1) Bug spray: Those darn bugs were all over us, leaving me itching several bug bites after the show.
2) Recreation: We were clearly rookies to the experience; a ton of children had footballs, baseball gloves and Frisbees. Since we're too old for the carnival and love sports, we needed to bring something to throw around in the fort to kill time before the show.
3) Something to sit on: Sarah and I have nice Detroit Tigers fold-up chairs and blankets, but they're useless at home or left in our car. We needed a place to set up shop and have a nice seating arrangement where bugs can't easily crawl up our backs.
4) Bring refreshments: Luckily it wasn't 90 degrees with the sun beating down on us, but it was still muggy and had us parched. Many veteran Maumee-Perrysburg firework goers brought coolers with sodas and snacks. That needs to be us next year. We can bring some soda and sandwiches.
One thing we did right was hurrying out and taking side roads to beat the traffic jam. We had to run awhile in open areas, but we were home within a half an hour from the last explosion of the fireworks who. We were either going to fly out of there, or I was going to write the blog from my car as we watched the traffic jam clear.
It was really cool too see Fort Meigs open its doors and give back to the community in that fashion. And frankly, seeing so many community members there. Maybe someday when Sarah and I have children the carnival part of the event will be more appealing. Until then, we'll settle for the beautiful fireworks over the Maumee River.