Beer, hotdogs, baseball, and fireworks spell an American experience

I spent a week out in California amid a wash of lavender jacaranda trees in bloom, fragrant citrus trees and rows of palm trees, not to mention large flowers that looked like white and purple fireworks. (Which I later found out were called lily of the Nile or agapanthus.)

They wouldn’t be my only fireworks of the week, I also attended an Angels versus Dodgers baseball game, where there were the usual homerun fireworks accompanying a baseball game that would better be called an “experience.” There was fun fan rivalry, music, cheering, and a number of entertaining candid videos of fans on the big screen. For the consumer, there were also concession stands of every kind, not to mention vendors walking the rows selling everything from peanuts and pizza to caramel corn and keepsakes. Myself, I opted to go to one of the concession stands to see the full range of fare before committing.

There was a lot of standard fare, but I was looking for local specialties. I found out that the “Angel dog” disappointingly is no more than a foot-long hot dog. However, when I saw the “skeeter” I knew that I had met my match. After all, a foot-long hot dog is good, but a foot-long hot dog topped with brisket is better. Paired with a draft beer in a commemorative cup, my stomach was soon satiated, that is, until I smelled caramel corn floating by. Suddenly the score of the game seemed irrelevant, my mission was to attract the attention of the vendor in the next aisle before he sold his last bag of sweet and salty goodness.

You’ll be happy to know that I was indeed successful, the bag was soon tossed at me from a few rows away before he came to collect the cash.

I found myself distractedly thinking about the Angel dog as I was delicately ripping off a hunk of someone’s cotton candy. Why name it an Angel dog if there is nothing to demark it as such? The Angels are known for their iconic ‘A’ logo with a halo around the top. Why wouldn’t they at least put an onion ring around the wiener at one end to make it an Angel dog? Americans are typically such fabulous marketers, making me want to try and buy everything … but they’d fallen short on this one.

Now crunching on some pistachios shared with me, I had an “aha” moment. How about taking the hot dog bun, splitting it at one end and laying it in a pizza slice triangle-shaped container like the sides of the letter ‘A’ and then have one wiener on each side of the bun with an onion ring around the top of the of the two hotdogs to fasten them at the point? Now you’ve got an Angel dog, and something that you can charge double the price for.

Satisfied by my new product development, my attention turned to the scoreboard. They’d hit an attendance record that night — 44,548 people! It’s hard to believe that that many people were in one building. Getting out off the parking lot was going to be nightmarish.

Wimpy fireworks in red and white signalled the end of the game. I heard the announcer say that there would be fireworks at every Friday night game, and couldn’t believe that this was what they meant, but then again, the Angel dog had surprised me too.

On our way out of the stadium, half of the parking lot was blocked off. Without warning, the sky started to explode with huge fireworks. We were walking right past where they were being lit. I’ve never been so close to fireworks before, as I could see the fireworks themselves lighting before taking off like magical rockets into the night sky.

There were all the usuals, with a couple marked differences. One firework looked more like a small swarm of bright green and yellow fireflies, zipping around each other quickly, before expiring. The other was a 3-D-ish one that seemed to jut out at us shockingly. These new ones were tantalizing to the eyes, but the sheer volume and length of the whole display was truly remarkable. Communities planning their Independence Day celebrations would be as green as barium-chloride fireworks, not having the means to put on such a display.

I was truly thrilled by this exclamation point on the high-scoring, high-energy baseball game, the friends, fans, and food around me. I realized that if I’d wanted to watch the game, I would have seen more of it had I watched it from home (fewer distractions, and better views of the plays.)

I was there for the experience and Angels Stadium had delivered and delighted. Though not the focus of the experience, in case you were wondering, the Angels won 8 to 5.

Happy birthday, United States of America!

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