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We Share our 4th of July Traditions, What are yours?

When you think of the 4th of July, the things that come to mind are the savory smells coming off the barbecue, red, white and blue, and of course the highlight of the day is the fireworks. When the earth vibrates from the thunderous booms and the sky lights up in a spectacular burst of colors it marks the end to a memorable day.

All of us have certain things that we enjoy to do on this Summer holiday. 4th of July traditions date back 242 years. The earliest celebrations included concerts, speeches, and the firing of muskets and cannons. Our team of writers are sharing our favorite 4th of July traditions. What are yours?

Being from a small town, my favorite thing to do for the 4th of July is to celebrate with my small town. Although activities have change over the years (going to the parade, enjoying the city festival, or selling parking spots), the one thing that has stayed constant is watching the fireworks with good friends. You can't beat spending the day with good people, eating good food, and settling in for your hometown's annual fireworks event.  Katy Matello

My favorite 4th of July tradition has been to climb on rooftops to view the fireworks. Sneaking through small windows out onto various roofs we probably shouldn't have been on to watch the fireworks has been a pretty constant tradition for my friends and I. Last year, I ended up on top of my brother's apartment building (I can share this one because they have a rooftop patio so we weren't breaking any rules for this one!) And I had never watched fireworks from that high up before, so we actually found ourselves at around the same height as the fireworks, which completely changed the experience for me. The first 4th of July that I remember when I was a little girl, I was terrified by how close and loud the explosions seemed, scared enough to take off running in the opposite direction to get inside and away from the scary noises. It was quite the experience to see how much I have changed over the years as I contemplated the things in life that used to scare me and now simply amuse. Stokes OShields

The 4th of July, for me, is a time for family. Growing up my family and I never really do the same thing, but we always spend time with one another. During the summer, we are all typically busy, so it gives us the opportunity to relax and share laughs. I love it the most when I can be with my grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles by the pool listening to music and eating barbecue food. We take the time to catch up, talk about the world, and play UNO altogether. Because all my family no longer live close to each other, I cherish the moments when we can all be in the same place. Spending time with family is my favorite thing to do for the 4th of July because it’s a chance to be with my favorite people during my favorite season. Elon 

For the 4th of July, I love going to the lake with my friends and family. We love to grill and play with pop-its and sparklers throughout the day. Of course we always watch fireworks and enjoy the sunset together. The best part is by far the finale of the fireworks show, and we are always sure to have bright spirits during our celebrations. Abbi

I most look forward to the competition between my younger brother and I for who bakes, ices, and decorates the best cake. Originally, we would both help our mom in baking an Independence Day themed dessert that sported our nation’s colors. This ritual evolved into a competition that I have won for the past three years. My favorite part of 4th of July is enjoying my cake while watching the film, Independence Day, with my family. My 4th of Julys have always had viewing the fireworks as the major highlight. Morgan

July 4th has always been one of my favorite holidays because of the food being grilled on the grill, the colors, and of course the fireworks. Almost every year since I was little, I’ve spent my 4th in Marietta and it’s one of my favorite ways to spend it. The Marietta Square lines up endless white tents serving numerous options for food, jewelry and crafts. I’ve outgrown their rock climbing walls and bouncy castles as they were once my favorite as a kid. Now I enjoy the excitement of what’s to come at night. As the day winds down everyone finds their spot to watch the big firework show. My spot has always been on a rooftop surrounded by friends and family to watch the colors explode into the sky. ​​Julia

The 4th of July is special because it is a time of fellowship and celebration. Over the years, I have done everything from cheering at morning parades to watching fireworks over Lake Washington in my family’s boat. No matter where I am though, there are several elements that play an important role in making it one of my favorite holidays: family, friends, good food and fireworks. 

Waking up early in the morning and gearing up in every red, white and blue article I can find is key. This is followed by parades in the area with cheers of “God Bless America” and gathering as a community. The afternoon is spent by the pool with friends and a themed spread of food. The night is topped off with sparklers, laughing with family, music, dancing and a fireworks show illuminating the sky. 

My favorite parts about the 4th are (1) the oohs and ahhs as the fireworks boom overhead. I love looking around at those around me and seeing their smiles every time the sparkling light penetrates the darkness and (2) remembering the sacrifice from others for our freedom and how it instills a of sense of patriotism that every single person feels on this day. It overflows the hearts of soldiers and veterans alike and can bring a tear to the eye of any onlooker. This special day of fellowship and remembrance easily makes this the happiest day of summer and one of my favorite holidays to celebrate.   Emma

I grew up watching the fireworks on my rooftop in New York with my family. Then I moved to a small southern town, and my fourths were filled with parades, barbecues and fireworks like most of America. My favorite was when we got to be on one of the parade floats. Seeing the delight in the faces of the children as we waved to them from the float was so much better than just being a spectator. I also loved taking part with the community in this unique way.

Last year my family broke our 4th tradition and went to our favorite beaches on 30A in Florida. We rented an AirBnB tiny house in Seaside. Spending the day riding bikes to neighboring towns and laying on the hammock outside our little house made for a relaxing 4th. Watching the fireworks explode over Gulf of Mexico while sitting on the beach was truly a magical experience. Gina

Looking to make 4th of July traditions of your own. Check your cities website for times of local parades and fireworks displays. Check out this story in Travel and Leisure, The Best Fourth of July Celebrations Across the U.S.,that shares the biggest 4th of July celebrations around the country.

Fun Facts:

  • 1785  First 4th of July parade

  • 1870  Congress made the 4th of July a federal holiday.

  • 86 Places in the U.S. have "freedom," "independence," "eagle," or "liberty" In their names.

  • The First week of July is typically the busiest travel week of the year in the United States.

  • 3.8 million people will travel by plane on the 4th of July.

  • Approximately 150 million hotdogs are consumed each 4th of July. The record for eating hotdogs, including the bun, is 68 in 10 minutes. 

Written by Katy Matello, Stokes O'Shields, Elon Graves, Abbi Stickels, Morgan Moore, Julia Duncan, Emma Toland and Gina Duncan

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