On America’s 241st birthday, Southern Californians had a multitude of choices in which to celebrate Independence Day in all its red-white-and-blue glory, but perhaps no option better combined the storied past of the United States’ origins, and sparkling pageantry, than the resplendent Queen Mary spectacular.
This year, the annual tradition was entitled the “All-American 4th of July,” and saw the Long Beach harbor aglow with not only up-close-and-personal fireworks, but the historic ship, which first set sail out to the ocean beginning in 1936, and was subsequently used extensively on behalf of the Allies during WWII, before retiring for good in 1967. Now a decades-long fixture of the harbor, The Queen Mary is proudly synonymous with the city of Long Beach.
For only a fairly affordable $44 per person for General Admission, the family-fun Fourth of July was an all-day extravaganza, from 2 to 10 pm, with always an array of fun things to do. For example, there were arts & crafts activities galore — like the chance to design a patriotic pinwheel, participate in a watermelon-eating contest, ride a Ferris wheel, and lovingly pet pigs and llamas in an enclosed pen. In addition, a plethora of food vendors were strewn about for convenience, including a Habit food truck, kettle corn, turkey drumsticks, hot dogs, Italian ice, pizza, and more.
Certainly, musical acts abounded, highlighted by a mini-concert from 1980’s trio, The Pointer Sisters, who performed “I’m so Excited, “He’s So Shy,” and other hits during their 45-minute set on the Seawalk ground level. That being said, there were several other less heralded groups who exceeded expectations with spirited performances, organized according to scheduled intervals, on various decks of the ocean liner. The Lindy Sisters, for instance, were terrific as a wholesome throwback to the much simpler time of the 1940-50s, harmonizing classics like The Andrew Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” James Rensink and his band mates, too, who infectiously covered an assortment of modern-day songs, such as Walk The Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance,” did an excellent job of getting attendees into a festive and jovial spirit.
What was even more impressive is that 4th of July revellers could also pass the time — before the fireworks — by experiencing a 4-D film and going on self-guided tours of two specifically amazing exhibits that were inclusive of a purchased ticket to the event. The 4-D Theater currently has two 15-minute movies that are playing — one featuring Spongebob Squarepants and another of the “Planet Earth” series — both of which offer a lasting memory belying their short duration. The latter is a particularly mind-blowing experience of the deep, underwater ocean, amplified by an ultra-sensory interactivity that contributes to one actually feeling the visuals.
Not to mention, the ongoing “Diana: Legacy of a Princess” exhibition offers 13,000 square feet of endless hand-written letters, palace invites, newspaper clippings, and artifacts belonging to both Diana (e.g., her gowns) and the Royal Family. It is a very humanizing look inside the lives of English royalty over the past century, and the tragedy and toll that Princess Diana’s passing had on her familial peers and the world at large.
The Diana exhibit is matched by only another one that coincidentally debuted on the Fourth of July – “Titanic in Photographs.” It is an immensely interesting and haunting exhibit with rare (enlarged) photos, along with furniture pieces, chinaware, and fixtures of the fallen vessel that were left mostly intact. It is an odyssey unto itself, as those who walk through it can observe the outset and aftermath of the 1912 catastrophe. Undoubtedly, one is taken aback by what transpired over a century prior, and a life jacket (on display) that was used by one of the survivors underscores the poignancy, as does a memorial wall that can be viewed prior to exiting the exhibit.
Of course, the firework spectacle on The Queen Mary is in a league of its own – a tradition that has impressed year after year – and 2017 pulled no punches, nor held anything back. As Katy Perry’s “Firework,” Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.,” and classical Americana tunes blasted the speakers on deck – complementing the stunning glitz and glamour decorating the night sky – onlookers saw once again, first-hand, why Long Beach’s Queen Mary is unparalleled on the 4th of July.
For future events at The Queen Mary, like the upcoming “Dark Harbor” attraction (September 28th through November 1st), please visit QueenMary.com