Five for the Fourth

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The Fourth of July is quite easily my favorite holiday. Not only does it celebrate all things American, but it falls in deep summer, a time when the fruit is juicy, the days are long, the grass is high (Dad: please don’t make me mow the lawn this weekend!) and the kids are off school — everyone’s ready to let loose.

The beloved national holiday is always a great excuse for a party, a parade, an afternoon at the pool and dressing in the most outrageous Uncle Sam, red-white-and-blue get-up you own. It’s a chance to rekindle your patriotic spirit and enjoy an extended, long weekend off from work.

So even though gas prices are on the rise again, the stock market’s failing, global warming is dooming us, and this recession has just got us all down in general, we still can’t forget to be grateful for how lucky we are to be living in a free country.  Independence Day is a time to remember how blessed we are for our freedoms and appreciate exactly what our forefathers meant when they scribed “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!” It’s time to celebrate the liberties we often take for granted.

So how are you going to commemorate the birth of America? This week’s “Five for the Fourth” I thought I’d share with you a few different ways to take part in the stars-and-stripes festivities, and, of course, a couple traditions of my own.

1.    Will Smith’s Independence Day:  The 1996 science fiction drama by all means demands 2-3 hours of your Fourth of July weekend. It’s become my own personal tradition to watch the movie in the days prior to the Fourth of July –although I must admit, half of that tradition pays homage to the fact that the film is almost unavoidable (it plays almost non-stop on USA and TBS days before the Fourth!) However there’s nothing like Will Smith and company fighting aliens and saving the world to get you in the Hoo-Rah patriotic spirit!!

2.    Travel: Three-day, four-day weekend? It’s a great time to get out of town, and possibly have a more “authentic” Independence Day experience. You might want to try out a few of these landmarks that are venerated for their national and historical significance:

  1. Philadelphia. Philly is a great place to start when it comes to appreciating our Founding Fathers. It’s home to the Liberty Bell and is claimed to be one of the best spots for fireworks (seen over the Delaware river). Philadelphia also hosts a plethora of concerts and performances to keep your attention.
  2. Boston. The city where the famous “Tea Party” protests and legendary battles occurred years ago is filled with historical goodies and the Boston Harborfest, which kicks off in late June and is said to be a fantastic time. On the fourth, the renowned “Pops” orchestra joins artists including Neil Diamond for their annual “Fireworks Spectacular” on the Charles River Esplanade.
  3. Mount Rushmore. No better place to pay tribute to some great American presidents!
  4. Washington, D.C… My hometown is a great place to celebrate the Fourth, The nation’s capital is the site of many celebrations, parades and a wonderful fireworks display over the National Mall.


3.    Feast Festively: Have an outdoor barbecue, wherever you
are! Get some friends and family together to gorge on your Fourth of
July favorites. Whether you’re in the south biting into a juicy piece
of fried chicken, getting messy with a big pulled pork barbecue
sandwich in Texas, or satisfying your sweet tooth with some strawberry
shortcake in the Northeast – enjoy a delicious meal. Personally, I’ll
be chowing down on some hot dogs this Saturday…and according to the
National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, I and the rest of America will
eat over 150 million hot dogs this July 4th weekend!

4.    Honor the Nation:  Aside from all the sparklers and
streamers, it’s important to remember the sprit of the holiday. There
are many ways you can accomplish this, including:

  • Learning more about your country and its history, check out this great site for fun family learning activities.
  • Visiting a local cemetery and paying tribute to fallen American soldiers
  • Donating to a military cause: There are a lot of outlets for
    helping active or wounded soldiers. Check out this site for more
    details, or try contacting your local military base to see how you can
    get involved.

5.    Fireworks! Last but not least don’t forget the fireworks!
Fireworks are the perfect July Fourth “nightcap” after a fun-filled
day. Depending on the geography of your area, you may have access to
several fireworks shows or may have to set off your own sparklers and
rockets in your backyard. Just remember to be careful, have some fun
and enjoy the show!

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Inspired yet? There’s a wonderful range of activities to choose from,
and personally I can’t wait for the weekend to begin! I hope you have a
fun and safe Independence Day, and be sure to let us know what you
decide to do this Saturday!

Images courtesy Ehow.com, Texas Start-up blog.

Kirsten for My Wonderful World

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