For the Cassell family and our extended families, we gather together to celebrate being American! There are no two ways about it, through the years, Americans feel a great sense of patriotism. The 4th of July epitomizes celebrating all that is good about being patriotic. At the heart of our celebrations is family. Whilst the historical meaning of Independence Day is important, we do not sit around and discuss the finer points of the American Revolution, but instead, we pause to remember all those before us that gave us the opportunity to celebrate together every 4th of July.
And so let me tell you how we celebrate:
Barbeque and 4th of July – The two, go hand-in-hand. For me, it all started at my Great Grandma and Grandpa Meoli’s house. With a gathering of up to 40 people, the Meoli house, located in the city of St Louis, would explode into life from 12pm (although much earlier for Grandma and Pop Meoli). Our Italian American great grandparents would put on a spread that included good ole American burgers and hot dogs with homemade ravioli, pasta and meatballs. We will never forget the taste of the food, nor the smiles of all of our faces after the meal. The 4th of July celebrations eventually moved to my parent’s house where they still continue 30 years later. My dad and mom have carried on the tradition of providing an amazing spread with the addition of Ralph’s World Famous BBQ ribs. Oh, these ribs are something special and they have had rave reviews from many people from around the world making them “World Famous”!
Annual 4th of July Wiffle Ball – With all that food, we have to exercise! Having the fortune to be one of four brothers, there is a competitive nature that runs through the Cassell family (I bet you didn’t think that!). For over 40 years, we have held a Wiffle ball tournament with homemade trophies, prize money but most important – Bragging Rights! A Wiffle ball game is a scaled-down version of a game baseball (or cricket without the stumps) with a plastic bat and plastic ball, having holes. There have been tournaments with as many as 10 teams of 2 taking part. In St Louis, the weather on the 4th can be HOT and can even pour down with rain…. We played through it all! I still remember the buzz of striking out my Dad and my 2 older brothers!
Fireworks and the 4th of July – After our bellies were full and we could barely move our legs and arms after many games of Wiffle ball, everyone sat down to our fireworks show. On the week run-up to the 4th of July, my dad would pile his four sons into the car and we would visit 2 or 3 of our favorite outdoor fireworks stores. These stores would pop up a month before the 4th of July and disappeared by the 6th of July. Dad would search for the best and most reliable fireworks for the show whilst I looked around for the latest designs! I always seem to come home from the store with more colored-smoke bombs than I remember putting in my basket. The smoke bombs were good for keeping the mosquitos away! Dad and my uncles would orchestrate amazing fireworks with a symphony of music in the background for the full effect.
Everyone left the Cassell house feeling full, tired, and most importantly happy to be American and happy to be part of an amazing family.
So as I sit on my decking at the back of our house here in Manchester in the United Kingdom, I can close my eyes and remember how I celebrated all those 4th of July’s at the Meoli’s and Cassell’s and know exactly how my family is celebrating the 4th of July in 2020! I only wish I was there to win the Annual Wiffle Ball tournament title, as I did so many times.. haha!
I’d like to put a big shout out to my nephews Brendan, Andrew and Carter for the amazing lawn artwork every year!
Enjoy your 4th of July celebrations, everyone and most of all be safe during these challenging times!