As I may have mentioned on a number of occasions, the American Independence Day holiday is one of my favourites. It is a party planner’s dream: highly flexible, fun and always colourful. To date, we have had a Luau, a Star spangled Captain America homage, and an outing to Amity Island.
So what this year?
The inspiration for 2014 came to me after our rendezvous with the legendary Buzz Aldrin and Alan Bean et al earlier this year, when I realised that 2014 was the 45th anniversary of the first of the lunar landings.
The successful landing, and the safe return, of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins was the greatest achievement in American history, ending the bitter arms race with the USSR, and showcasing the capabilities of the United States’ space programme. But despite the passing of almost have a century since Eugene Cernan left the moon’s surface, we have never been back to the magnificent desolation of our closest neighbour.
NASA is presently recruiting for a caravan of intrepid explorers to leave our blue marble on a one way journey to Mars; an entirely different kind of desolation, where to date, only a handful of happy-go-lucky rovers have traversed. These settlers’ journey will, if successful, mark another first for humanity, and take the place of Apollo 11 in being the greatest of all human endeavours. However, unmanned missions are, and will continue to be, the most common means of space exploration, unless a sci-fi-esq alternative to the combustion engine can be found.
And so, we must instead reflect on the achievements of the mid century generation, as, even with the Mission to Mars programme in progress, it will be some time until another human being sets foot on an alien surface.
10, 9, ignition sequence start, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, zero. All engines running. Liftoff!
Having found a set of 25th anniversary postage stamps on eBay, I engaged Personally Sweet Stationery (on Etsy) to make some fabulous Independence Day Invitations.
The frenzy awaiting the space heroes upon their return was unprecedented, the avenues of America awash with unquantifiable reams of red, white and blue streamers and confetti.
I wanted to capture the essence of this image for this years celebration, and my canvas, therefore, demanded a patriotic pallet, with touches of metallic silver to encapsulate the aluminium features of the marooned Lunar Module. A midnight blue tablecloth was the backdrop, with bubble wrap forming the table runner, together with silver bubble envelopes as placemats.
To emphasise the era, my trusted Dr Pepper crate and Planters peanut sacks featured centre stage. The flowers were sourced from my favourite florist here in Cardiff, the wonderful Beth from Forbesfield Flowers. Gorgeous as always!
My favourite, however, were the gorgeous vintage souvenir glasses I found on Etsy featuring four of the Apollo missions (11, 12, 13 and 14). Unfortunately, corresponding pieces for Apollo 15, 16 and 17 were never manufactured.
A couple of Marx plastic astronaut figures, featuring Buzz and Neil engaging in their moon exploration activities, completed the look.
Food wise, I wanted to include dishes that would not have been out of place in the late sixties. We had pulled pork sliders, recipe courtesy of Whatsgabycooking.com, the worlds best (yes I appreciate this is a big claim, but it really is the BEST!!) mac’n cheese, from the awesome Martha Stewart, home made pretzel bites, courtesy of twopeasandtheirpod.com, dips (supplemented by fabulous edible flowers from greensofdevon.com), teenie gherkins, and followed by home-made cherry pie and moon pies (recipe, gardenandgun.com). There were even IBC root beer floats for the more adventurous of our guests!
For plates, I used small pie dishes, also helping on the subsequent washing up, and a rocket pen was offered as this year’s favour.
The soundtrack of the evening was an eclectic mix of current music, transmitted via my 1969 Dansette Prince auto-changer record player, a nod to how the legacy of those monumental steps 45 years ago set in motion the technological advancement that brought with it the smart phones and tablets that have revolutionised the way in which we all live and work today.
We choose to go to the moon
The fulfilment of JFK’s 1962 challenge to land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth was a resounding testament to how the will of a nation could overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to (literally) reach for the moon. How more fitting a way to mark the aspirations which led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence way back in1776 by America’s founding fathers, therefore, than by reminding ourselves of the presence of the solitary Star-Spangled Banner amid the unchanging grey cinders of the Sea of Tranquility, forever proclaiming the tenacious spirit of the human race for all the heavens to see?
Flowers – http://www.forbesfield.co.uk
(Edible flowers) – http://www.greensofdevon.com
Recipes – (Pretzels) http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/homemade-soft-pretzel-bites/
(Pulled pork sliders) http://whatsgabycooking.com/pulled-pork-sliders/#.U7helcY6JZg
Stationery – https://www.etsy.com/shop/PersonallySweetShop