The 1631 celebration of July 4 was the first major community celebration in Grantville after the Ring of Fire. It was a two-tier event, with a party and parade in town throughout the morning, and the wedding of Jeff Higgins and Gretchen Richter in the afternoon.
Is it July 4?Edit
There was some initial conflict about whether it was indeed July 4. While Grantville was going by the Gregorian Calendar (which was universally used in the 20th century), in 1631, most of Protestant Europe was still using the Julian Calendar. Thus, Grantville's decision to recognize the date raised some eyebrows amongst its Protestant allies, for according to the Julian Calendar, July 4 was some time away.
Melissa Mailey had tried to warn Mike Stearns, but Stearns didn't care: Grantville and its allies had won a substantial victory at the Battle of the Crapper just days before, plus the Higgins-Richter wedding represented the first instance of a marriage between an up-timer and a down-timer, and Stearns saw too much symbolic value in the moment to let it go to waste.
The Grantville ParadeEdit
The parade was completely disorganized, despite the efforts of Grantville Mayor Henry Dreeson. Under the leadership of Julie Sims, the cheerleaders went first. Michael Stearns and Rebecca Abrabanel were somewhere in the middle. The Scots cavalry under Alexander Mackay were further back, but many left the parade for the purpose of ogling the cheerleaders. APCs were on display throughout.
However, by the afternoon, the event's organization had broken-down, as people left the parade and joined it at a whim, and wider celebrations broke out in the town. Only Dreeson went the entire planned route, and even then, he retraced his steps to rejoin the festivities.
The Higgins-Richter WeddingEdit
The wedding of Jeff Higgins and Gretchen Richter went off more or less as it was supposed to. The wedding party included over 100 people, more than half of whom were on the bride's side. Melissa Mailey acted as one of Gretchen's two "advisers"; the other was Karen Reading, the owner of Grantville's bridal shop.
Relatively minor hitches included: Gretchen's insistence that she wear tennis shoes rather than high-heels (she was overruled); Willie Ray Hudson, the man who was "giving" Gretchen away, spent the morning getting drunk, and had to be pulled away from the celebration (he did come, and he wasn't too drunk); and the fact that Gretchen had to understand that their marriage was not simply a matter of convenience for Jeff Higgins, but a potential love-match. Gretchen agreed to work on "loving" Jeff Higgins.
For his part Higgins had few illusions about how much Gretchen loved him. His party was small: Larry Wild was his best man, Eddie Cantrell and Jimmy Andersen were ushers, and Dr. James Nichols acted in a role similar to Melissa Mailey.
Mike Stearns's goal of symbolism was generally a success: while there was some initial grumbling about the "good boy" Higgins marrying "trash", this was done in private, and with time, Grantville found Gretchen a much more noble and heroic figure.