Monday, July 2, 2012

Independence Day: How America Celebrates

Every year as the Fourth of July approaches, I always picture my holiday going something like this:

A friend knocks on my door, wanting me to hurry up and get outside to play a game of night baseball. We run slow motion through the neighborhood, while the neighbors enjoy a large barbecue on the street complete with string lights and sparklers. Meanwhile, fireworks are going off, casting just enough light to play in the dark, and Ray Charles is slowly and soulfully serenading us with "America the Beautiful". Yes, I just described the best scene from the movie The Sandlot, and I still wish every year this would happen (although instead of baseball, I think I'd prefer enjoying drinks on a boat). 

Part of the finale-taken by my phone

My usual 4th of July is a lot less glamorous than I'd like it to be. However, this year I'm determined to make it the best one yet. It's already started off on a great foot with our local  fireworks show. It's a big production and music is played over the loudspeakers in time with the fireworks. It was so much fun and exactly what I had imagined. 

The park at dusk

While this holiday is typically marked by fireworks and barbecues, I decided to do a little research and see what some unique and fun traditions are being celebrated across the country. These are my top favorites:

1. Welcome America! Philadelphia's 4th of July Celebration
  • Being America's birthplace, I would definitely expect a big show from this city, and it looks like they deliver! They start festivities a week prior to the 4th, and some events include the Taste of Philadelphia, outdoor movies, a fashion show, and more. On the 4th, you can begin your holiday with a history lesson, listening to speeches and excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. After follows the parade with hundreds of participants. Then comes the Party on the Parkway, an all day event with blocks and blocks of entertainment to enjoy, including three music stages. Finally (and my favorite part), the "Largest Free Concert in America" starts on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and an amazing fireworks show over the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
2. Boston Harborfest
  • There are over 200 events going on for the holiday in Boston, and over 40 on the actual day. Some highlights include a walking tour of Boston, USS Constitution Cruises which feature a 21 cannon salute to the Country and an appearance by the Blue Angels, a mini show by harbor seals, a tour of a burial ground, a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party, and of course, amazing fireworks.
3. Fourth of July in Colonial Williamsburg
  • Being the history nerd that I am, I have to include Colonial Williamsburg. I was able to visit C.W. when I was a kid, and it was one of the coolest places I'd ever been to. For those who aren't familiar, it is basically a large village (a few hundred acres) with hundreds of buildings all restored to look like Colonial times. You can go into all of these buildings, most being shops, restaurants, houses, and businesses. There are also people dressed in character that will talk to you like they would have back then. Okay, so this may not appeal to everyone, but like I said I'm a nerd and I think it's awesome. Anywho, back to the 4th of July. It is an all day event, complete with an "old time" parade, multiple bands, a symphony orchestra performance, and ultimately fireworks.
4. San Francisco's 4th of July on Fisherman's Wharf
  • I was 12 the last time I was in San Francisco, and I remember visiting Fisherman's Wharf and can imagine it being a lot of fun for this holiday! There are a lot of live bands going on at Ghirardelli Square and Pier 39, as well as cruises to take, and San Francisco's firework show over San Francisco Bay.

Whatever your plans are for this 4th of July, have a safe and happy holiday!


  1. This is so well written! Thanks for the info!