While this post does not fit the theme of luxury travel, I wouldn’t be doing this blog justice without writing about my annual Fourth of July trip: a family vacation to our condo in Panama City Beach, Florida. Affectionately known as the Redneck Riviera, PCB is a place where you can spend hours people watching, counting the number of rebel flag tattoos and the number of mullets blowing effortlessly in the wind. This kicks into full gear while celebrating the Fourth of July. This year, my family and I kept a count of how many American flag bathing suits we saw on the beach – we were well over 20 watching from the balcony alone – and decided to pledge allegiance to every one we passed. If there is one thing rednecks love, besides Bud Light and a good Alvin’s Island shopping spree, it’s America, which makes PCB one of the best places to celebrate our freedom.
I can’t diss the general public too much, this place is like a second home to me and the people here are some of the friendliest in the world (not to mention I come from a family of rednecks, which makes me appreciate the stereotype that much more). It’s not the camo-wearing crowd that makes makes the Fourth of July at Panama City Beach great; it’s the fireworks. While there are a few professional shows going on along the beach, including ones at Pier Park and St. Andrews, the really impressive displays are those shot off by average joe’s who have spent well over three grand for a couple hours’ worth of revelry. It’s not necessarily the quality of these fireworks that matters, it’s the quantity that’s really impressive. All along the beach, as far as your eyes can see, bursts of thousand-degree flames spiral through the air (and, if you’re unlucky, some of them spiral toward a crowd).
We had a front-row view from our condo balcony, where two or three families competed with one another on the grandeur of their firework displays. Hundreds of balconies full of observers cheered them on, applauding when one vibrant show outdid the other. This went on for well over an hour, interlaced with a few stragglers who had purchased Roman Candles, sending measly slivers of light thirty feet into the air. If I had invested in Roman Candles, I’d probably wait until the 5th of July to shoot them off, so as not to be outdone by the more elaborate fireworks around me. Either way, the sheer volume of the fireworks is unparalleled. I’ve seen professional firework displays from the New York Harbor, but sometimes you just can’t compete with the home-grown charm of PCB. Take a look at the video below to see just how much was going on:
And that is how you celebrate America, Redneck Riviera style.