Yesterday was Independence Day, or the Fourth of July. Fireworks are legal in Maine now and there were a variety of “do it yourself” firework shows around town. Some I could see from my porch and others I could hear. While manufactured pyrotechnics lit up the sky over the trees, fireflies sparkled here and there along the road. My street was occasionally animated by crackles and booms from the Summer Street area of town; periods of silence and darkness were accompanied by crickets and the steady pulsing flicker of fireflies
In the garden, a volunteer sunflower grows. While this particular Helianthus is an annual, occasionally a dropped seed will survive the winter and grow the following season. This one is the branching variety, meaning it will bear numerous flowers instead of one large flower head. It’s a green explosion and I’m anxious to see the bloom’s type and color. Sunflowers are August’s garden fireworks.
I like fireworks, both manufactured and natural. According to Wikipedia, fireworks were invented in China during the 7th century. I guess that means they’re nothing new under the sun.
The Tiger lily is another fireworks-like flower, bursting with color and spirit in time for the Moxie Festival. Here in the three villages of Lisbon, along with Tiger lilies, we’ll have Moxie fireworks on Friday evening.
Contrary to myth and meme, the festival is shaping up to be outstanding.
It will be absent the “unofficial mayor of Moxieville,” Frank Anicetti. Anicetti, a local icon, died this past May. As Moxie maniacs know, Anicetti did not open his store for 2016’s celebrations, strategically retiring amid much fanfare just days before the festival. Interestingly, Anicetti alluded to his departure from the Moxie scene as early as 2014, when he was interviewed by writer James Sullivan for an article featured in The Boston Globe’s July 10, 2014 business section. That year, longtime festival coordinator Sue Conroy died just weeks before the Moxie began flowing. Sullivan wrote “her passing triggered more speculation about the future of the festival, which has weathered recurring scrutiny as it threatens to outgrow the town.” Anicetti told Sullivan in an interview “there are things happening this year.”
Anicetti was a storyteller, that’s for sure. In spite of “things happening” the 2014 Moxie Festival was very good. The weather was perfect, crowds thronged the shabby streets of town, and the talented Lakeside Lutheran marching band was just one attraction that pleased visitors and locals alike.
The 2017 festival’s theme is “Moxie Salutes the Red, White & Blue.” Retired US Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills will be the parade’s grand marshal. Mills, a quadruple amputee who survived an IED explosion while on active duty in Afghanistan, will also have a booth downtown during the festival. Parade Chair Gina Mason says the parade will “probably be the biggest we’ve ever had.” The criteria for parade excellence, as many know, is whether or not one can smoke two cigars during the event. At least that’s the criteria former Moxie Festival organizer Noyes Lawrence uses. “Two stogie parades” measure up. I asked Mason if this year’s parade would be a “two stogie” event.
“You be the judge,” she said. “Bring at least a couple.”
And the Moxie Store? Anicetti sold it early in 2017 to an enterprising team of locals who completely gutted it and repurposed what Globe writer Sullivan described in 2014 as a “ramshackle store” with “bananas in the window and a selection of old-fashioned candy hanging on peg hooks.” Tony and Tracy Austin, or Lisbon Pride, LLC, have accomplished much in the 60-plus days they’ve owned the real estate, converting it into a pub called “Frank’s.” When I ride my bicycle to the post office, I look at this miracle with wonder. The building itself, never much architecturally, has shaped up into a small town work of art.
Not too shabby anymore.
If you’re planning a visit the sleepy little town along the Androscoggin River for fireworks, fireflies, or Moxie, you be the judge of all these things. And don’t forget your stogies.