Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Investigation into Ripon’s lack of an Independence Day Celebration

The 4th of July comes but once a year, and if you are American and like sparkly things, you get excited about it. Ripon, which toots its own horn as the “Jewel of the Valley,” has always had spectacular fireworks for such a little town. I would even dare to say, the best in the central valley. Even before Danny and I attempted to assimilate into this sleepy Dutch town, we would come here for the fireworks. If you are reading this and thinking, “Dangit, I should have gone to Ripon this year for fireworks,” no need to worry, Ripon decided to cancel Christmas….err I mean the 4th of July.

Ripon is considered one of the more affluent towns in the central valley and has not been hit quite as bad by our little economic slump. However, as of late I have questioned this idea of Ripon being a genuine jewel and considered proposing to the city council that jewel should have the word faux in front of it. If Manteca can afford fireworks, Ripon should be able to muster up some of that secretive Dutch gold and sing happy birthday to the good old USA.

There are a few possible reasons for Ripon’s dismissal of a great American tradition. The following is a presentation of these various reasons.

1. Big Ben. But wait, you are asking…Isn’t Big Ben English? What could the English possibly have to do with the Dutch? The answer is everything.

One possibility for the lack of fireworks is that in a greedy manor Ripon has mismanaged its Dutch fortune. Ripon’s Dutch nest egg has fallen from the almond tree so to speak. Ripon is merely a reflection of the kind of thinking that many Americans have. It thinks that if you appear wealthy you will become wealthy. We see how well this worked out for essentially all of America when they bought massive houses, with massive mortgages, and a couple of fancy SUVs on the side. If Ripon’s thinking were correct, I would go out and buy an Infiniti G35, some Christian Louboutin shoes, and retire at the ripe age of 20 something.

So Ripon has decided to go this route by putting in some unnecessarily expensive landscaping and a clock tower. I will refer to the clock tower as, "Little Big Ben." That’s right Ripon has decided to spend $45, 031 on a clock instead of fulfilling every Riponian child's dream. I am not just pulling this number out of my you know where, I am a good investigator and have a spy within the Ripon City Council. It is also a matter of public record.

Now let’s look at the Little Big Ben situation from another side: The side of the Dutch. Perhaps the once wealthy Dutch were thinking that by expanding its inner circle to more than well... the Van so and sos, it could make a little money. By putting Little Big Ben in, they are assuming that British travelers from near and far will come spend the Euro.

I must disagree with Ripon’s thinking. We all know that the English think their Big Ben is the bee’s knees and nothing will ever compare. They should have come up with something more glamorous, like the World’s Largest Ball of Yarn. I would totally pay to see that.

So while the clock tower does look pretty. It is not 45,000 dollars pretty. I also have a watch, a car radio, and a phone. Between the three of them, I always get to where I am going on time. Next time Ripon wants to beautify something lets go with a tree.

2. The next possible reason why Ripon cannot afford fireworks is similar to the Little Big Ben problem: Roundabouts. Yes, Ripon is at it again with its European emulation. Ripon has been putting in roundabouts at a record pace. Although roundabouts are supposed to help with traffic flow and make things smooth sailing for drivers, this has not been the case.

For one Ripon, is a town of 14,000 ish people. There are no traffic problems here. The only traffic slows are caused by old Dutch men who drive 15 mph down Main Street.

Another problem with the roundabouts is that Americans don’t know how to use them. Do you yield? Do you stop? Do you drive around twice or even three times? Do you blink? Who knows? If you go to Ripon's official city website there is a link on how to drive in a roundabout. I'm serious. Clearly the European invention is way too sophisticated for us country folk.

Some of these roundabouts are not up to code. There is a certain roundabout on 2nd Street that is too narrow for the town’s fire trucks. Granted maybe Ripon’s Fire Department has unusually large trucks, but you think the city planners would consider these things before they tear out a perfectly good four way stop. The city spent a bunch of money on this roundabout and now has to rip it out in order to be within the fire code. Once again, this is a bunch of ill spent money that could have been used on fireworks.

Did I mention that Little Big Ben is in the center of a roundabout? It is. Just another fact that supports my idea that Ripon is trying to pull a fast one on the Brits.

3. My third idea is probably more accurate than the former ones. Like all of California, Ripon is hurting, hurting for money. Even an affluent town like Ripon is not immune to economic turmoil. The housing market is in the pooper, the state is broken, the unemployment rate is ridiculous, and people are shopping at Winco instead of the local Savemart. As sad as it is, there is no money for fireworks.

Luckily Ripon does allow its lovely residents to set off their own fireworks. Danny and I were able to enjoy some slightly less impressive fireworks with great friends this year. I believe our friends' neighbors may have set off some more impressive illegal fireworks…but I’m no firework expert.

To be honest this past 4th of July may have been my favorite thus far. The lack of money in everyone’s pocket makes people more grateful for the little things... like some good BBQ and a sparkler. Sparklers happen to be my favorite firework, despite my hissy fit. I do hope that Ripon brings back its great firework show. I hope for this economy to turn around. I hope that the British are fooled into thinking Ripon is the new London. I also hope that Riponians learn how to drive in the roundabouts. But I mostly hope that the 4th of July, whether there are fireworks or not, continues to have a special place in my heart.

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