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Summer Journal: Being Born on, or Close to, the 4th of July Brings Two Parties Together

  • River and his sister Rose watch as their parents Scott and Kathi Terami, of Tunbridge, Vt., light candles on a flag cake during River's birthday celebration held at Woodstock's annual fireworks display in Woodstock, Vt., on July 4, 2011. (Geoff Hansen photograph)

    River and his sister Rose watch as their parents Scott and Kathi Terami, of Tunbridge, Vt., light candles on a flag cake during River's birthday celebration held at Woodstock's annual fireworks display in Woodstock, Vt., on July 4, 2011. (Geoff Hansen photograph) Purchase photo reprints »

  • After the crowd dispursed, Scott Terami, of Tunbridge, Vt., kicks the soccer ball around with his daughter Rose, right, and her friend Emma Hansen in Woodstock, Vt., on July 4, 2011. The high school football field's lights were turned on to help people find their cars. (Geoff Hansen photograph)

    After the crowd dispursed, Scott Terami, of Tunbridge, Vt., kicks the soccer ball around with his daughter Rose, right, and her friend Emma Hansen in Woodstock, Vt., on July 4, 2011. The high school football field's lights were turned on to help people find their cars. (Geoff Hansen photograph) Purchase photo reprints »

  • River and his sister Rose watch as their parents Scott and Kathi Terami, of Tunbridge, Vt., light candles on a flag cake during River's birthday celebration held at Woodstock's annual fireworks display in Woodstock, Vt., on July 4, 2011. (Geoff Hansen photograph)
  • After the crowd dispursed, Scott Terami, of Tunbridge, Vt., kicks the soccer ball around with his daughter Rose, right, and her friend Emma Hansen in Woodstock, Vt., on July 4, 2011. The high school football field's lights were turned on to help people find their cars. (Geoff Hansen photograph)

Last summer, a blushing River Terami celebrated his seventh birthday with more than 120 people singing in unison while they were packed into the Union Arena lobby in Woodstock.

“It was this neat feeling of a huge choir singing Happy Birthday to him,” said his mother, Kathi. “Then my Mom whispered in my ear, ‘Cut the cake’s pieces really small so everyone gets some.’ ”

When you share your birthday party with the nation’s, the crowd and the fireworks, the cake and candles all run together. While some parents avoid blending a holiday and a birthday celebration, the Teramis, of Tunbridge, have embraced it as a family tradition.

Scott and Kathi Terami, with their daughter Rose, first attended Woodstock’s annual fireworks display while Kathi was pregnant with River.

“Our friends joked, ‘The fireworks will send you into labor,’ ” she said. River was born a week later, on July 11.

The next year, the family informally celebrated his birthday back at Woodstock, with a few friends and Kathi’s mother, who was visiting from Wisconsin. It rained, but the impressive fireworks still went off as promised.

“Surrounded by ridges, it echoes and vibrates,” Kathi said. “They’re worth driving out to see them.”

Since then, the Teramis have sent out an open invitation to friends and family (including me and my wife and daughter), and their friends and family, to celebrate Independence Day and the birthday of their quiet, curly-haired boy in Woodstock. Flag cake included.

A pound cake with red, white and blue in strawberries, whipped cream and blueberries, Kathi Terami’s patriotic cakes impress those in attendance. She said they were common in Milwaukee, where she grew up. “In the Midwest, you are guaranteed to find a flag cake at a Fourth of July party.”

Woodstock’s celebration not only includes fireworks, but games for children and an open rink at Union Arena rink for ice skating. On a muggy evening, it’s welcome relief to take a few laps on the cool ice.

The Teramis come well-prepared for the party. A child’s wagon is loaded with footballs and frisbees, a crate full of extra pairs of ice skates, blankets, “every folding chair we can find,” Chex mix, watermelon, popcorn, lemonade, ice tea and ice coffee. “Last year we brought a folding table,” Kathi said. “It feels a little awkward setting up at a public event.”

But two dozen friends and family attend every year. Even when they’re surprised by a sudden lightning storm, like last year.

“It was the most georgeous 80 degree summer day,” Kathi said. “Everyone had blankets out on the football field. A huge storm snuck up over the ridge and very nearby lightning struck. Everyone was off the field in 60 seconds, packed into the lobby shoulder-to-shoulder.”

As the heavy rains came, some of River’s guests were getting ready to go. A decision was made to sing to him amongst the crowd. Everyone joined in, a sing-along to remember.

Friends are now planning their vacations around River’s birthday party, celebrating with the community on the Fourth of July.

Geoff Hans en can be reached at ghansen@vnews.com or 603-727-3247.

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