La Kermesse is a festival held near the end of June every year to celebrate our area’s Franco-Americaine heritage, and it always kicks off with a block party and fireworks. In case you didn’t know it, I’m a pretty extreme introvert. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like noise. I don’t like carnivals. But for some reason, I love the La Kermesse block party!
It’s early evening and the weather is perfect. People gather in the park to listen to music from live bands, line up to buy cotton candy and fried dough, shop for souvenirs, play carnival games, and ride carnival rides. As the evening progresses, several blocks of Main Street, where it crosses the river adjacent to the park, get blocked off. The flashing blue lights of the police cars at each end add to the festive atmosphere, and the street fills with people.
And what fascinating people! Amidst the “ordinary-looking” folks in casual clothing are Goth types all in black and spikes and tattoos. Muslim women looking cool and elegant in their long dresses and hijabs despite the heat. A girl with waist-length purple hair that exactly matches her ruffled camisole top. Babies in strollers and old ladies with walkers. Men with impressive facial hair, others with impressive muscles. Kids in t-shirts and shorts rolling down a grassy slope and running to the top to do it again.
I don’t know any of these people and never see them in my day-to-day life. I suspect that all these different “types” probably don’t normally see much of each other, either. But everyone gathered here seems happy. The crowd is in a good mood, polite, having fun, enjoying themselves. People smile at each other. I notice random acts of kindness. I chat with strangers.
The sun sets in a flare of copper-colored clouds and darkness descends, and we find a spot along the bridge to watch the fireworks. Anticipation grows until…finally…the first explosion and flash of color illuminates the night to appreciative “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd. For the next 20 minutes, everyone is focused on the show in the sky, climaxed by the grand finale, a riot of color and noise.
And then it’s time to join the people streaming up the middle of the street, on our way home, back to our everyday lives. Tomorrow Main Street will be filled with the usual traffic, and I will be back to my usual introverted self. Until next year, when I’ll see you at La Kermesse!
Summertime Play (with Impresso app)
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**Scene & Story is a collaborative creation that Sarah Huizenga of Paisley Rain Boots and I dreamt up to encourage one another in our photography and writing. We’d love to have you join us! Just share a favorite photo from the previous month along with a short story or description and link up your blog or Flickr photo.