s promised all the food was free at the Dan and Peg VanLanen Fourth of July party. Visitors were able to choose from hot dogs, brats, or hamburgers from the roaster containing the meat that had been cooked with great care by Dan VanLanen himself earlier in the day. Along with the cooking Dan usually gives a stirring speech on the evil business men who have their employees work on holidays just like this one, but the speech never came this year despite eager party goers awaiting the rousing rant.
The meal was served as promised at roughly 4PM with large numbers going back for seconds. The feast was topped off by a piece of birthday cake passed around by Elizabeth VanLanen who celebrated her birthday Saturday but actually had occurred June 30. A second person, Joel Sobieck who celebrated their birthday on Saturday was unable to attend due to work progressing on his cottage in Townsend. Sobieck's wife Shelly, who had been with him earlier and came to the party somewhat late made mention of the milestone and with a nod and a moment of quiet it was acknowledged and we moved on.
As evening drew near fuel was needed for the fire pit and with Dan recovering from knee surgery recently preparation of the fuel was unlikely. Luckily Bob VanLanen eldest son of Peg and Dan stepped in to take charge of the fuel preparation, but not without noting however that he had not received prior notice of the task and felt he was being pressed into service with insufficient preparation. Just the same Bob stepped in with a hand saw and began sawing up some of the scrap wood laying out in the fire pit located near the woods. After the sawing was complete VanLanen sat down and after some badgering he introduced his new friend Kelly to the people around the fire.
Attendance topped out at about 20 people more or less, not counting small children with some coming and going at will. While some regular visitors to the event failed to show this year such as the Axis of Evil or half of the Lades others stepped in to round out the group most notably the Wenzel and Cornelius clan along with their fresh babies. The usual crowd of battling children populated the grounds chucking water balloons, silly string, and whatever they could find to throw at each other with the usual one or two coming away whimpering. As soon as dusk began and it became apparent that daylight was drawing to a close children began asking when the fireworks were to begin. Of course the logical answer "when it gets dark" was repeated over and over again.
4th of July people await the lighting of the cerimonial fire pit centered for warming comfort
Most of the visitors sat in a circular pattern around the portable fire pit so as to draw equal heat from the fire.
The only exception in the group was Sarah Poquette, the local wiccan who sat by herself all afternoon and was still too distraught over the death of the King of Pop to carry on a coherent conversation with anyone. Poquette usually fascinated by the fireworks and actively participated in them barely acknowledged their existence this year.