10 Awesome 4th of July Traditions

by Brett & Kate McKay on June 28, 2011 · 63 comments

in Blog

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A man has a healthy appreciation for positive traditions. Traditions add rhythm and texture to our lives, bind us together with others, give us something to look forward to, and simply provide a good deal of joy and satisfaction.

When it comes to traditions in my family, no day of the year is filled with more of them than the Fourth of July. My family has always done Independence Day up big, bigger even than Christmas. The day is filled with activities from morning until night; my family loves to cram as much fun as possible into the holiday. Growing up, the 4th of July created a lot of great boyhood memories, and now it’s a day I truly look forward to as it brings my whole family back together.

If you’re looking for inspiration in creating an Independence Day to remember, below I share how we do the Fourth of July in the McKay family, and the traditions–past and present–that make this holiday memorable for me.

Hang the Flag

First thing in the morning we’d hang up our American flag. We didn’t do any elaborate ceremony. Just put it up, thought about our freedoms for a bit, and got started with the day.

Check out this article we did awhile back ago on proper flag etiquette.

Go to a Parade

My hometown of Edmond, OK hosts one of the biggest 4th of July parades in the state. The parade hasn’t changed much in 20 years, but I still enjoy going to it. I love the sense of community when I’m standing next to my neighbors cheering on the local Boy Scouts carrying flags or watching a local children’s tae kwon do class demonstrate their board breaking skills along the parade route.  Most of the parade, however, consists of old, fat Shriners riding on three-wheelers and driving go-carts. I seriously don’t know what the parade planners are going to do when all these guys die off and no one is there to drive go-carts that look like bowling pins. Another thing I like about the parade is my sister’s homemade blueberry scones. Nothing like munching on a tasty pastry while listening to the float for a local bank blast “I’m Proud to Be an American” from their speakers.

Another favorite 4th of July parade of mine is the one hosted in Montpelier, VT. Vermont’s a weird state, and the Montpelier parade perfectly displays Vermont’s weirdness. One part of the parade will be filled with these old, Yankee farmers driving their big green tractors and showing off their milk cows; the other part will be filled with white hippie women doing African tribal dancing and giant puppets protesting consumerism and nuclear power. I love it.

Make Some Ice Cream

I'd like to know where you can wear a sweater and celebrate the 4th of July. Because dang, it's hot here.

Another small 4th of July tradition in our family is making homemade ice cream. My mom would always pull down the ice cream maker and let us kids help her put in the ingredients for some tasty vanilla ice cream. Here’s her recipe.

Plain Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream (1 pint)
2 cups light cream (1 pint)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

Pour cream directly into cream can. Add sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon or plastic spatula until the sugar is dissolved. Churn until creamy.

Hit the Fireworks Stands

After the parade, my friends and I would head over to the fireworks stands. As I type this, I can smell the wonderful aroma of black powder permeating from plywood shacks. As a kid, I remember being overwhelmed by the selection. Black cats, jumping jacks, smoke bombs (especially the ones that look like grenades), and M-80s were my go-to fireworks. My friends and I were very strategic about what we bought. We’d get a few of the fun things like tanks and smoke bombs, but most of our purchasing power was directed towards fireworks that could be used to blow stuff up. I’m a grown man now, but I’m still a sucker for a trip to the fireworks stand, and of course, blowing things up.

For more info about fireworks, check out this guide to fireworks we wrote up a few years ago.

Go See a Blockbuster Movie

After sufficiently stocking up on fireworks, we head over to the movie theater to take in a fun, summer blockbuster. Fourth of July has historically been the day film companies release some of their biggest and most action-packed movies. I can still remember many of the movies I went to see on the 4th of July. The best one by far was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 4th of July 1989. We named the dog Indiana…

Make Some Root Beer

A recent addition to our family’s 4th of July traditions is my sister’s homemade root beer. It’s super easy and the little kids seem to enjoy helping make it.

5 gallons cold water
5 pounds white sugar
1 (2-oz) bottle root beer concentrate
5 pounds dry ice

Place 4 gallons of the cold water in a large container. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour in root beer extract and mix. Add the dry ice and put the lid on loosely so the gas can escape. Let it “brew” for about 15 minutes. Add the last gallon of water and let brew for another 15 minutes.

Have a Block Party

Growing up, all the neighbors on our street would get together for a block party. All the dads would bring over their grills to our house along with coolers of meat and beer, the moms would bring salads and desserts, and the kids would have water balloon fights and light some fireworks. We’d stuff our faces with all the hot dogs and potato salad we could eat. Sadly, the yearly Fourth of July block party faded away as neighbors re-located and kids grew-up. Do people still have block parties these days? I hope so.

Light Up the Grill

With the neighborhood 4th of July block party a thing of the past, my family now has an annual cookout at my parents’ place. My sister and her family will make the trek from Denver, and we’ll occasionally have some extended family join us. My mom and dad make quite a spread for us every year: burgers, dogs, brats, baked beans, potato salad, and other delicious summer delectables.

For advice on summer grilling, check out the following resources:

Blow Stuff Up

After the sun set, the parents would take the kids out to the fields behind our houses to light fireworks. The fields were full of these small ravines, and I remember I’d jump across them after I’d light a string of black cats and imagine I was Indiana Jones escaping an army of gun-firing Nazis.

We’d also make sure to bring old toys with us to serve as effigies that we’d blow up in sacrifice to the gods of the Fourth. As we got older and the watchful eye of parents left us, our pyrotechnic plans became more elaborate and dangerous. I’m still surprised no one ended up in the hospital.

Watch Some Fireworks

After shooting off our own fireworks, we head over to the local university to watch the big, elaborate fireworks display. I love sprawling out on the grass with my hands behind my head and watching the loud bursts of color explode in the sky. It’s the perfect way to end a day full of food, family, fun, and patriotism.

‘Merica.

What are your favorite 4th of July Traditions? Share them with us in the comments!

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mike June 28, 2011 at 12:48 am

I’m wondering where a couple of these traditions went, myself. Do people still have block parties? Growing up I don’t even think we were casually acquainted with our neighbors…

Also, the pessimist in me wonders how many years it will before giving kids fireworks becomes a taboo. How long before fun is too dangerous for kids?

2 Morgen June 28, 2011 at 2:24 am

Well, for us the ice cream was less of a tradition and more of a ‘hey, we’ve got an excuse to make ice cream!’

Going to see the parades and fireworks were fond memories. Then the city fireworks got less interesting and we moved the fireworks to the driveway – much more entertaining!

3 Don E. Chute June 28, 2011 at 5:12 am

Sounds a lot like my 4th of July memories…except ‘making root beer…who the hell does that?

Happy 4th of July to all…
Aloha!

4 Stu Hodgkiss June 28, 2011 at 5:25 am

I think I’ll be starting some traditions this year, very hard to celebrate 4th July in Manchester, England!

5 Ewan June 28, 2011 at 5:43 am

I always admire these American traditions. It’s such a shame we English aren’t the same way about St. George’s Day.

6 crazylikeknoxes June 28, 2011 at 7:43 am

Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. I have no idea why.

7 Westicle June 28, 2011 at 8:37 am

I love reading your articles b/c they are so incredibly positive and encouraging, similar to the demeanor of reader’s posts. However, I find your portrayal of Shriners quite shameful in this article as merely go-cart riding, old, and fat. I think you need to make a more conscious effort to remain positive in your posts, and especially not to alienate your readership that may be Freemasonic. The Shriners are true gentlemen and include Presidents, veterans, explorers, actors, et al., and spend their time upholding a true philanthropic organization.

8 Mike June 28, 2011 at 8:57 am

My neighbors and I hold block parties for Cinco De Mayo and July 4th. And I agree, shriners are always the best part of the parade. Especially when one of them revs up and ride a wheely.

9 Shannon June 28, 2011 at 9:07 am

Great article Brett!! Brought back lots of memories!! Can’t wait to be there! I’ll bring all the scones you can eat!

10 Jeremy June 28, 2011 at 9:25 am

Family Reunion talent show and cookout July 3
Sleep on trampoline with all cousins
5:00am watch the anvil get blown up (Taylor AZ)
6:30am end up at grandparents for a breakfast cookout
9:00am parade
12:00pm nap or Movie
6:00pm RODEO
9:00 Fireworks
10:00 Dance

11 Mailman June 28, 2011 at 9:38 am

This might be weird, but every year on Independence Day, and ONLY on Independence Day, I host a screening of the film ‘Independence Day.’ It is one of the only 4th of July traditions to which I adhere with unwavering consistency, aside from, of course, fireworks & being American.

12 Don June 28, 2011 at 9:49 am

Westicle-

I’m one of those old, fat Shriners. I didn’t take offense, so no need to be offended for me. Personally, I think one of the reasons people love the Shriners so much in the parade is the fact that we’re old and fat and drive around in little cars. It wouldn’t be as funny if we were young and skinny.

See you all at the parade!

13 Josh Bowman June 28, 2011 at 9:57 am

Does anybody stop to pay reverence to the day? The fourth is the anniversary of the signing of one of the greatest documents ever crafted: a document that sentenced thousands of men to death for our independence, that ensured the horrific deaths of all the men who signed it, and gave birth to what was once the greatest nation of all. It’s manly to put some gravity in your holidays , I think. Our beloved country has veered so far from what it once was that celebrating the 4th in the commercialized and trivialized way we do today is an insult to the lost spirit of America. So celebrate America for what it once was, and what it could become again, but not for what it is today. This 4th of July, perhaps we should learn to do one of the harder things for a man to do: weep and pray for our country.

14 Jared June 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

My family has always been big on holidays and get-togethers, but over the last several years our festivities have evolved into a shrimp boil and an escalating fireworks show. Thanks to an inside connection with a fireworks wholesaler and some group purchasing power, we put on a show that rivals some city shows. It’s been pretty cool to get to plan out our fireworks show with my brothers.

15 Rick June 28, 2011 at 10:29 am

Great article, makes me nostalgic for my childhood…we’d get together and cookout, my father is a fireworks junkie, he’d spend upwards of $300 on enough fireworks to blow up a small mountain.

But even better than the article, are the images! Delightfully old school!

16 Robert Flach June 28, 2011 at 10:32 am

If you have kids, I cannot recommend highly enough. 1) Raising the flag, 2) A Reading of the Declaration of Independence. 3) Singing of our National Anthem just before watching your local city or region’s fireworks display (seeing some bombs bursting in air can lend some real weight to the words of the anthem and really make it a memorable experience). 4) in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings”

17 Yared June 28, 2011 at 10:59 am

You forgot “Making Your Own Potato Moonshine” ;=)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md2GFtBCIh8

18 Yared June 28, 2011 at 11:02 am
19 Brucifer June 28, 2011 at 11:21 am

My dear Brett, I am force to take umbrage with you old chap, on an otherwise splendid article. First, I wish we American men would disabuse ourselves of calling the holiday “4th of July.” Without alienating AoM’s goodly readers from the British Commonwealth, let me clearly state that the purpose of the holiday is to celebrate our hard-won, by pluck and considerable luck, INDEPENDENCE! In common with how Memorial Day has similarly degenerated, “4th of July,” to far too many chaps, conjures-up mere images of grilling dead animals and swilling beer-like substances and the rest of things that you have already noted.

As a couple of other posters have already recommend, INDEPENDENCE DAY should also be a time for learning and reflection. A reading of the Declaration of Independence and perhaps the Bill of Rights, would be appropriate before sitting down to consume ones “summer delectables.”

People in the U.S. are in grave danger of loosing connection with the spirit of our War for Independence. Our fragile little Republic is barely 200 years old. A mere blip in time, and a still-new experiment, yes experiment, in self-governance.

“4th of July” celebrates the benefits of independence from crowns and dictators. Alas, it no longer celebrates the sacrifices made for that independence.

20 Patrick June 28, 2011 at 11:45 am

Me and my neighbors are all veterans, so we love the 4th. The day goes like this. At noon, I read the declaration to my family and whoever is over. Then we put on a CD of patriotic music. I also have a mix of the Army Song, Marine Corps Hymn, Air Force and Navy songs. Once we hear those, the party starts seriously. We use this day to remember our fallen friends in the fight to keep America free. Thus we enjoy ourselves in honor of the fallen and those still serving.

The neighborhood then becomes an “open door” cookout where we go from house to house, visiting, having beers or sodas. The kids play in the yards. We have the grills going all day and night. It feels like something out of the 50s which is surreal. I have friends that come from their suburbs where they complain of a lack of neighborhood unity. Hey, the more the merrier!

When night falls, we congregate on our corner, prepared with coolers of beer and beach chairs. From that vantage point, we can see 2 professional fireworks displays with locals shooting off their own firecrackers, rockets, etc. We fire up the grills again at Midnight and stay out until either dawn or our wives pull the plug. It feels like that one party from the Great Gatsby in the 3rd chapter where nick meets Jay Gatsby…..

God Bless America!

21 Chris June 28, 2011 at 11:51 am

I’m also from Edmond, OK. I loved the parade, both watching and occasionally marching in it as a Boy Scout. I could see the fireworks at CSU (later UCO) from my lawn, so we watched them from there. Great memories!

22 Drew Danburry June 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Awesome post! Blowing stuff while making ice cream and root beer into homemade root beer floats is my favorite thing. It’s almost as good as watching the Yahoo Serious make beer by splitting an atom in the cinematic disaster Young Einstein.

23 Taylor June 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I like to use Independence Day as a kind of reminder for New Years resolutions. I make a list of bad habits or things that I want to change, and declare my own personal Independence from them!

24 Michael Hill June 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I will buy the biggest legal fountains and crackling stuff legal in Virginia and buy a lot of it, then, I will set everything up on a plywood plank, twist as many fuses together as I can and with two lighters in each hand, my brother, cousin and myself will just watch everything burn while we play Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner as loud as possible :)

25 John June 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm

My sisters and I would save up our money all year to buy fireworks . We always had a “fireworks fund” jar. About a week before the Fourth, we’d get nervous that we didn’t have enough so we’d do any odd job around the house to get money from our parents. God love them we always had enough by the time we made it to the store. The trip to the store was better than Christmas shopping. The smell of gunpowder and sawdust permeated the place.The bright colors of cardboard and paper mache overwhelmed your eyes. The names evoked the impending doom that would come at dusk: Flaming Wheels of Destruction, Violent Flowers, Gatling Guns. Oh what joy! I still get giddy every time I step into a fireworks store…

Being from Northern Indiana gave us another great tradition, we would always watch a Betamax copy of the PBS show of Jean Shepherd’s (of the Christmas Story fame) “The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters” that my dad recorded 1982. It is available on youtube as well, do yourself a favor and watch it. Amazing stuff!

26 Marc June 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Like a few others, I also suggest reading the Declaration of Independence out loud to the family. I heard it from a friend as one of his family traditions. It has real impact, because it is a document that is intended to be read out loud.

27 Aaron June 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I love the piture under blowing stuff up. The kid has his head directly above the firework he’s lighting. Priceless

28 Kenny A June 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Brett,
As a gentleman, fellow patriot and prior military servicemember, I offer my sincere thanks for adding the link to the Flag Ettiquette page.
I felt it was important enough to post for the first time on your site, though I have been reading your archives for several weeks.

29 JonathanL June 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Patrick, that just sounds awesome.

Me, I work a short shift in the mornings, and then spend most of the day doing nothing. In the afternoon, the wife and kid and I head out to some city’s festivities and enjoy them. It’s not a huge deal, really. There are some sparklers and such, but nothing explosive.

30 Jacob June 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I second the Brucifer’s comments !!!!! I will be reading the Declaration of Independence to my little boy and little girl. Maybe they will be the ones to help save this country from the “Dismal Tide”.

31 Cameron T. June 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm

No fourth of July is complete without a viewing of Yankee Doodle Dandy. I guarantee it will make you tear up with patriotism.

Hot Dogs are also a must for July 4th.

You ask where it could be that cold and you could wear a sweater? Well, my Dad told me that his Dad has memories of a freak snowstorm one fourth of July! In Texas, no less!

As for Fireworks: if you live in Texas, New Mexico, or Arizona, for the love of God PLEASE leave the fireworks to the pros this year. This entire region of the country is completely dry and we have enough problems with fires as it is right now!

32 Scottso June 28, 2011 at 6:07 pm

I would not call Shriners ‘fat ol guys’. The Shrine (made up of Master Masons) contributes $1m per day to charities. The Shriners Burns Institute treats children who are horrifically burned free of charge, there is no billing department at a Shriner’s hosptial.

33 Kyle June 28, 2011 at 6:38 pm

My friends and I have an annual 4th of July grill-off… Two time defending champ! Coming for that 3-peat!

34 Warren June 28, 2011 at 7:16 pm

When I was a teenager, our tradition was to go next door to our neighbors house for their big pool party lunch. We would swim all day and set off fireworks at night.
Now, we go to the parade in the morning, and the city hosts a big fireworks display at night.
I also try to watch the ending of the musical 1776 sometime during the day. The scene at the end when the Declaration of Independence is being signed when the bells are ringing still gives me goosebumps.

35 Alex June 28, 2011 at 9:32 pm

We’re going to drive to our relatives for a family reunion, grill some great food, light fireworks, and let the kids run around like crazy. There will be guitars, folk songs, and the guys will all stand around and argue whether or not the new Hemi in my Charger R/T is really a true Hemi. We’ll talk about fallen heros we know and hug each other before we go our separate ways on Tuesday. There will be sparklers. Unfortunately we’ll be missing the block party here at home – but we can’t miss the family reunion.

36 William Ashton June 28, 2011 at 11:23 pm

These are all great traditions! Love the rootbeer one.

I’m surprised no one takes a moment to reflect with a copy of the Declaration of Independence. That’s been a family tradition in my family as far back as I can remember.

Just food for thought.

William

37 Playstead June 29, 2011 at 1:49 am

My biggest tradition is spending the 4th with family and/or friends. Oh, and a BBQ and cocktails. It’s a great guy holiday.

38 nim8or June 29, 2011 at 2:23 am

Wearing a sweater on the 4th? Move to Seattle; you’ll undoubtably need a jacket or sweater when it comes time to watch the fireworks over Puget Sound. Brrr…

39 Mike Pine June 29, 2011 at 7:28 am

Muster at 0830 at the armory, inspect and pass out cartridges to the musket squad, provide musket salutes at the grave of a signer of the Dec. march back to the armory
and stage our 4 cannons for a 21 gun salute to the nation at noon, fired from 4 1796 cannon made by Paul Revere. All while wearing 1790 style wool uniforms. Fun and games afterwards. Mike

40 David Phares June 29, 2011 at 9:38 am

My town has a big fire truck parade evey ear on the night before the Fourth. We’d have friends over for a BBQ and then go to the parade with a band concert and fireworks after. There’d be fire trucks from over 20 towns with their sirens at full volume. Nice.

41 Ted June 29, 2011 at 9:51 am

The last several years, my family has gone to the local minor league baseball game. Single A baseball, followed by the best fireworks show in the county!

42 Courtney Jones Media June 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Great post with awesome photos. It reminds me those old days back there. Thanks for the sharing.

43 Richard June 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Here in Eastern PA July 4th is about the best time to watch the fireflies come out in the evening and slowly work their way up into the trees, flashing the whole way. Like having Chrismas tree lights in July!!

44 Roger Ubert June 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm

@Josh Bowman Not to get technical, but August 2, 1776 is the day the document was formally signed. July 4th is the day that the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence.

Though I agree that on Independence Day should be a day of reflection and thinking about the deeper meanings of what our independence has brought us, both for the good and the bad.

45 David June 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I would like to post a reminder that even though fireworks are a great way to celebrate our independence, there are some places that you just shouldn’t do it. In my state of Texas, there is a severe drought across most of the counties, and setting off fireworks isn’t just dangerous; it’s also illegal. There are many ways to have fun and to celebrate (and I have many times in the past for a lot of fun), but if you’re in a very dry area, it’s best not to set off fireworks at all. My hometown lost a firefighter recently due to one lonely little spark, so play it safe.

46 T-Man June 29, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Once again, another well done article. Love this website!

47 Glenn June 30, 2011 at 10:53 am

Gundogging in CENTCOM AOR

48 Matthew Hines June 30, 2011 at 3:44 pm

My Fourth of July tradition is popping in the film “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and bask in the overt patriotism the film portrays. While it is a biopic of Broadway music man George M. Cohan, it also featured his most famous works including the title song itself, and “Your A Grand Old Flag,” and finally the WW1 hymn “Over There.”

But there are several more things I have always equated with the Fourth. Watermelon is definitely one, potato salad another. And I remember we would gather some friends together and have a barbecue down at the lake shore, and swim and down barbecue and fish. What memories; what traditions. I will do what I can to preserve them so that my kids can have memories about that day of Independence.

49 The Giant Skunk June 30, 2011 at 6:09 pm

If the weather doesn’t cooperate or I need to cool off for a couple hours, one of my traditions is to watch the movie “1776.” My Jr. High School History teacher introduced me to it and despite the singing and dancing John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, it’s actually pretty good history. At least your kids may ask you to explain what they are singing about and learn something.

50 Miller Industries June 30, 2011 at 11:50 pm

reading the declaration of independence? yawn. granted, it is important, but how boring! i like the one guy’s watching of independence day on independence day. classic!
yes, let us remember what we fought so hard for, blah blah blah. look none of us fought in the revolutionary war, and i think those guys that did would want us to enjoy the freedoms they earned us, and not be sticks-in-mud. i would think theyd want us to have fun.
personally, theres nothing more american than watching these movies: ET, The Sandlot, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Batman Mask of the Phantasm…

and im a grown man.

51 Carrie Campbell July 2, 2011 at 11:07 am

Last year we spent the 4th in Ukraine. We started singing the National Anthem at a deserted bus station, and the lady who worked there cussed us out in Russian and told us to sing our American songs outside.
Hoping for a better traditional experience this year. Thanks for the ideas.

52 Steve July 2, 2011 at 12:07 pm

The 4th is when I love to watch Hist Channel in the mornings, go to a buddies house and grill, drink plenty of beers, and watch Fireworks downtown at night. I love America!!!!!!!!

53 James July 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Being as this will be my 3rd 4th of July deployed with the U.S. Navy we will be light up the sky with quite the show of force! Illumination rounds from the 5″ Cannons make for an amazing fireworks show.

54 W July 2, 2011 at 8:43 pm

We read the Declaration of Independence – from my 94 y/o grandmother all the way down to my 9 y/o niece.

55 Ryan Jennings July 4, 2011 at 8:57 pm

This year, my roommate and I recorded myself reciting The Declaration of Independence, made a video, and posted it on Facebook for my friends to watch and listen to.

56 Paul Hakel July 6, 2011 at 11:28 am

I think that people should protest and fight to preserve liberty on the 4th of July; what better way to love the U.S. than to fight for it and continue to expand the good things it’s doing.

57 Arlew July 6, 2011 at 6:14 pm

In my family we read the Declaration of Independence and listen to “The Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Phillip Sousa (consecutively, not simultaneously).

58 Emily July 7, 2011 at 11:10 am

I love the parade section of this post. I am from Montpelier, and the parade is one of my favorite events of the year! You’re right, Vermont can be a strange place, but that’s what makes it what it is!

If you’re ever back in Vermont, you should try the Burlington parade and fireworks. It’s our biggest ‘city’ and the people there are a little less.. out there. Fireworks are right on the water so it’s great!

59 G Mr. Bill July 22, 2011 at 8:35 am

I’ve always loved the 4th. Unlike most other holidays, there is little to no pressure to make sure everything goes right (like Thanksgiving and Christmas), so everyone is free to relax and enjoy each others’ company. I’m retired Air Force and I got an even deeper appreciation for the 4th when I got stationed in Alaska (where it is too bright for fireworks most of the summer), then England (where it’s not really celebrated).

BTW, Brett, I live in a suburb of Houston, in a development with an HOA, and my street definitely still has block parties. I, or more appropriately, my unabashed daughter, made sure we knew everyone on our street. We now have a Neighborhood Watch, each others’ emergency contact numbers, and have block parties for July 4th, Halloween, and Christmas (we also had one the day after Hurricane Ike took out our power for two weeks, but we still had our lives and our homes intact). I host a wine tasting party every Fall. Another neighbor throws at least one pool party a month in the summer. A third neighbor often sits with his wife in their driveway, inviting other neighbors on their way home from work to stop by for a drink. I love it! It takes such little time and a smile. If you don’t already, get involved with your neighbors. It’s worth it!

60 Culper June 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Rodeo!! A perfect manifestation of the cultural melting which makes America great!

61 GUy June 20, 2013 at 11:00 am

I want to start a new tradition and read the declaration of Independence ever year on the 4th. I did it last year and It put the whole day perspective for me.

62 Rob in San Diego June 26, 2013 at 1:35 am

Growing up in and near Washington DC, I came to appreciate the uniqueness of the United States. Swelling a bit with pride as I used to drive past the White House, which my grandfather (a Master Plasterer) rebuilt during the Truman presidency. Visiting Mount Vernon, home of one of the richest men in the country, who risked it all for freedom. Walking under the Capitol dome and seeing the statues of the men who built this country. Seeing the original Star Spangled Banner which flew over fort McHenry during the War of 1812. And most of all, trying to read the fading ink on the original Declaration of Independence.

I live in California now, here the 4th is just a day to go to the beach, get drunk and watch fireworks. Sometimes I miss Washington.

63 mag July 3, 2013 at 9:51 pm

I love the making ice cream and root beer traditions! How fun!

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