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Garth Hamspon and Staff Sgt. Brad Hampson. All photos by Chrissy Steinbock.

July Fourth in the North: A taste of the road for the Fourth of July

By Chrissy Steinbock on July 6, 2016

Bruce Heyman on the dancefloor.

Bruce Heyman on the dancefloor.

Just days after a stormy Canada day, the sun was warm over the city for the American Embassy’s annual Fourth of July celebration. U.S. ambassador Bruce Heyman and his wife Vicki extended a warm welcome to 3,500 friends filling the grounds of Lornado, the official residence and their home for the past two years.

Among the invited guests were diplomats, politicians, and members of the military, though the eclectic crowd also included artists, corporate leaders, and various other change makers. Although the overall style was classic summer formal with some creative spins on the red, white and blue there were also a few bold splashes of colour and ornate fascinators that stood out in the crowd.

The U.S. embassy’s Fourth of July parties always highlight a particular facet of America, oftentimes showcasing a state, region or iconic city. This year, the Heymans invited guests to experience more of America with a Road Trip U.S.A. theme. Guests got a feel for the freedom of the open road with a classic car display, a line of Harleys, and plenty of road trip nostalgia from license plates to classic “Greetings from” postcards. There was even a Harley rigged up to be stationery so guests could climb on, rev. the engine and dream of cruising down the Pacific Coast.

Mayor Watson and a '56 Caddy.

Mayor Watson and a ’56 Caddy.

The menu featured a tasty sampling of regional treats you may well experience on a journey across America. For a taste of Route 66, guests sampled Kansas City pulled pork and slaw before heading over to the Southern Pacific for Louisiana favourites fried catfish with rice and beans. Back up the Atlantic Coast highway, road trippers for the day savoured Maryland crab cakes and South Carolina fried green tomatoes before booking it up North for Seattle Chinook salmon and North Dakota bison burgers. Along the way there were Route 11 potato chips, Washington cherries and Vermont cheese to nibble on between stops. And if room allowed after that culinary romp there was Eli’s famous Chicago cheesecake and Dairy Queen blizzards for dessert.

Meanwhile, Toronto party band The Digs got people grooving with their dance floor-ready soul, playing everything from Motown classics and Whitney Houston to “Uptown Funk” and Bruno Mars. Hailing from Chicago, the Heymans’ friendliness and warmth were apparent in all aspects of the event from the fun theme to the party music to the overall leisurely atmosphere.

The Digs playing some sweet soul music

The Band of the Ceremonial Guard welcomed guests as they streamed onto the property before the assembled guests gathered for the Presentation of the Colours by the U.S. Marine color guard and the singing of national anthems by retired RCMP Garth Hampson and his son Staff Sgt. Brad Hamspon. Ambassador Heyman welcomed guests, reminding them what it means to celebrate July Fourth in the North, and recounting highlights in diplomatic relations in the past year. He highlighted meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family when they arrived in Washington for the State dinner a couple months back, and President Obama’s warm reception in the House of Commons just last week. He recounted traveling across Canada, praising Canadians for their “warmth, generosity and genuine hospitality,” before concluding that “The United States has no better friend than Canada and I believe that Canada has no better friend than the United States.”

Farewell

Surrounded by flowering gardens and set on a cliff overlooking the Ottawa river, the grounds are a beautiful scene on a summer evening, especially as the sun goes down. And as the party came to a close with the fading of the light, we left the grounds grateful for the close friendship between our two countries and hopeful that not too much will change in the coming year.