Last night Oro Valley (just north of Tucson) had a July 4th celebration at a park next to the high school which included many food vendors, live music, bouncing castles and a climbing wall for the kids, and fireworks provided by the Hilton El Conquistador Resort at 9pm. We (my daughter and husband and their three kids and me) got there about 6:30 for pizza for the kids and BBQ for the adults, except I decided to try Venezuelan food – carne mechada (Venezuelan shredded beef) arepa and a malta.
The Arepa is a staple of Venezuelan cuisine, and often compared to a taco. However, there are a few key differences between the two that make the arepa stand out as the tastier option. The shell is a soft dough made from soaked, ground kernels of corn maize, which is placed on the griddle, giving the arepa its signature grill lines. It’s then filled with a variety of ingredients ranging from meat to veggies, cheese, and sauce.
Malta is a lightly carbonated non-alcoholic malt beverage, brewed from barley, hops, and water much like beer; corn and caramel color may also be added.
The park was packed (500? 800? more?) with a nice melange of people – white, black, Hispanic, Asian, little kids to seniors, two guys in wheelchairs, at least half of the people wearing red, white, and blue. A black kid with a mohawk, a woman with half of her hair purple, a couple of little girls in special flag dresses, many adult in the fashionable torn jeans with T-shirts, two crying kids talking to a female police officer who was reassuring them that she’d find their mother. Baseball caps being worn frontwards and backwards, firemen giving little kids red plastic fire fighter’s helmets. A couple of Asian women speaking Chinese, a mixed group of young kids playing a four-foot jenga (hadn’t brought my camera – this from the internet to give you an idea – the kids in the park were playing on grass).
After the two jumping castles and the climbing wall and the stringing of two patriotic necklaces (the face-painting line was way too long), we set up our blanket and fold-up camp chairs next to the family of a friend of my youngest grandchild, who we ran into. Bought rather expensive icies as it was still hot even with the sun going down, listened to the bands, the singing of the national anthem, and then the lights went off and the fireworks from the nearby resort started.
We couldn’t see the low ones behind the trees, but even with just the high ones it was a very impressive show. Somebody said there were three times the fireworks as last year. Much better than the Marriott Starr Pass Resort I had watched for years from my last house1, when I wasn’t in California or Vancouver. (We did laugh that we would have had a better view from my present rental, as I’m practically across the street from the Hilton El Conquistador Resort.)
1 Couldn’t find any photo of fireworks from the Starr Pass Resort from the Fourth of July, but here are some from February 2013 (don’t remember the reason.)