We wandered over to the Esplanade side of things for the first half, on the theory that there were more options for dinner and better people-watching. (Which is a major part of the point for us: it's fascinating to watch the remarkable variety of people who come out for the Fourth.) The weather was utterly spectacular, almost worth paying the price of two weeks of drear that it took us to get there. And we wandered close enough to the Shell to be on the outskirts of the mob for Neil Diamond's first set, which was rather fun -- lots of energy (if a tad too much drunkenness). The "food court", we discovered, was *directly* underneath the flyby, close enough to clearly see the afterburners of the jets.
But when we headed back at intermission, to take our traditional fireworks position somewhere around 200 Smoots, we found ourselves stymied: the National Guard were there, with barricades, insisting that the bridge was Full Dammit, and they weren't going to allow anyone else onto it. Of course, this presumably safety-related concern was resulting in a mob scene worthy of the best disaster movies, but we eventually managed to escape the solid crowd, and wandered off -- slightly annoyed at having our plans foiled, but enjoying the evening air too much to get really cranky about it.
In the end, we wound up finding a perch in the middle of the road, in the far lanes of Storrow Drive: there was a break in the trees, and the crowd wasn't too terrible. This turned out to be a fine location -- just close enough to a sound tower to partly hear the music, which isn't usually possible on the bridge. (Sweet Caroline turned out to be a remarkably effective shibboleth for determining who the Sox fans in the audience were: I'm not sure which could be heard further away, the fireworks or the cries of, "So good! So good! So good!")
And the position was *perfect* for the fireworks. We were essentially in the middle of the barge, which was parked parallel to us in mid-river. They were as spectacular as always -- indeed, they felt rather like a big F*** You to the recession, giving no ground to the economy. Delightful, energizing, and bloody damned *loud* from where we were.
Took us an hour to get back to our car afterwards (we felt no need to rush into the crowds, so we paused for soft ice cream on the way), but eminently worthwhile: one of the best Fourths we've been to, despite not being quite what we expected...