Fireworks. Flags. Food. A day of celebration. The Fourth of July is a little over a month away, and we’re already ready to celebrate with our families! July 4th is our most patriotic holiday, and marks the anniversary of our nation’s independence. Every year families and friends get together to commemorate July 4th in all kinds of ways. Have you made your Independence Day plans yet? It’s not too early or too late to get ready for a fun, family-friendly Fourth! Here are 5 traditions that many families enjoy every Fourth of July:
Besides the American flag, there’s probably nothing else that says “Fourth of July” like a fireworks show! A longstanding tradition, the first July 4th fireworks were set off on July 4, 1777. John Adams was the person responsible for the start of this tradition, writing that he wanted the day to be celebrated with “Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” Americans have definitely upheld this request for over the last two hundred years, with picnics, games, and fireworks taking place every year. In fact, Americans used 285.3 million pounds of fireworks last July 4th! One event that uses a bundle of these firecrackers is the largest fireworks display in America, held in New York City, where about 3 million spectators gather annually to watch the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Show. Whether your family will be watching fireworks on TV or attending a local show, these booming light displays never disappoint. To find a venue near you, check out http://find.mapmuse.com/interest/fireworks and keep the fireworks tradition going!
Parades commemorate celebrations throughout the year— Halloween, Mardi Gras, Thanksgiving, and also the Fourth of July! The oldest Independence Day parade in the country is the Bristol Fourth of July Parade in Rhode Island. Originally held in 1785, the Bristol parade draws over 200,00 people worldwide to celebrate. Another notable parade is the world’s shortest Fourth of July parade in California. The spectacle takes place over just two city blocks, but the events last more than two hours! The most patriotic parade may be the one that takes place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. More than 5,000 participants from a dozen states come out to march in this parade. If you’re considering taking the family to a July 4th parade this year, take a look at a list of America’s Best 4th of July Parades to find out if any of them are taking place in your area!
- History lessons.
Fourth of July history lessons probably don’t sound nearly as exciting as fireworks and parades, but July 4th is a great day to remember, and learn about, the nation’s heritage. We probably all remember from our elementary school days that the nation’s official Independence Day took place on July 4, 1776. But did you know that it didn’t become an official federal holiday until 1941? Fourth of July activities in the early years following July 4, 1776 included concerts, bonfires, parades, the firing of cannons, and public readings of the Declaration of Independence. Since the late 19th century, July 4th has become a day of leisurely family get-togethers including fireworks and barbecues. To learn more about the Fourth of July on the actual Fourth of July, consider a few of these activities: Create some American flag crafts with the kids, read the Declaration of Independence, or visit a national museum near you.
- Barbecues and picnics.
Americans love outdoor food parties! July 4th is full of barbecues and picnics for friends and family. It’s probably not a coincidence that July is also National Hot Dog Month. It’s estimated that 64.5% of Americans attend a picnic or barbecue on the Fourth of July, and consume 155 million hot dogs in a single day! Whether you’re grilling or picnicking, food is most likely the centerpiece of your Fourth of July event. Make sure your menu is plentiful, and suitable for the whole family! If you want a more balanced diet that isn’t just hot dogs, there are amazing recipes available for July 4th! Try some great cola ribs, pulled pork, or brisket with these barbecue recipes from the Food Network. Salads are another featured food on this day, from potato to macaroni to broccoli. Mix and match a variety of side dishes, so guests have ample food to sample, with these top 15 sides for the 4th of July. Finally, try some adorable Fourth desserts that are decked out in red, white and blue! We also suggest saving yourself some time and renting some concession machines to feed your family on the Fourth. NEO Amusements has popcorn machines, cotton candy machines, margarita machines, and more to serve up tasty treats. In honor of National Hot Dog Month, we even have a hot dog roller machine!
- Backyard parties.
Food is an important part of picnics and barbecues, but that’s not the only thing that makes families look forward to July 4th. This day in the middle of summer is a great opportunity to be outside, relax with friends, and throw a backyard party that everyone can enjoy. Celebrate the freedom symbolized by July 4th by getting outdoors in the fresh air! Make your backyard as inviting as possible with tents, tables, and chairs where guests can chill out from the sun. Get the kids in the game with a ton of backyard games, from Giant Checkers to Hover Ball to Ladder Golf. Or pump up the excitement with an inflatable bounce house! With a grilling station, games and activities, and places to sit down and relax, your family and friends will relish the tradition of the backyard party on July 4th.
Whether you engage in one or all of these five family traditions on the Fourth of July, there’s nothing like a festive holiday to make some memories and enjoy family togetherness. From big booming fireworks to tiny sparklers, and huge parades to intimate parties, celebrate Independence Day in all sorts of traditional styles- and start some traditions of your own!