With July Fourth only a few weeks away, it’s time to start planning how to make this year’s Independence Day the best ever.
No other special date inspires quite the same deep emotions as Independence Day, when we celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. Fun fact: The Continental Congress actually voted in favor of the Declaration on July 2, but it was revised and then completed two days later by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston.
With that in mind, because it’s too easy to get caught up in planning a menu and festivities, take a moment to learn more about the circumstances that led to this day, and then share that knowledge with friends and family. The courage of our Founding Fathers to take a clear and unequivocal step away from England and King George, a crime they knew was punishable by death, must be remembered and honored.
The first Independence Day celebrations were, ironically enough, modeled after English celebrations of the king’s birthday, with bells ringing, big bonfires, parades, and speeches made by local politicians. We added fireworks to simulate the raging battles as the 13 American colonies fought what was at the time the world’s largest armed force.
There are many ways to celebrate this holiday, from simple to complex. In many parts of the country, all that’s needed is to step outside and watch as neighbors, towns, and cities put on a fireworks extravaganza. For a lot of folks, a backyard cookout attended by friends and family, followed by safely shooting off fireworks, is an excellent, time-honored way to mark the day.
Another option is to attend a local Fourth of July parade or fireworks display, being sure to check with the event organizer first for any event details or restrictions; then get ready to “ooh” and “aah.” Arrive early to ensure a good parking spot, and bring a blanket or folding chairs, water, and a few snacks. But for those seeking to make more of the day, the following suggestions were chosen for their history or uniqueness.
Historic BackdropsWashington, D.C., is another great place to visit, capping a day of sightseeing with a 35-minute fireworks display organized by the National Park Service and featuring some of our country’s most iconic monuments as a backdrop. It's also televised nationally.
State SpinoffsNew York City does everything in a big way, with the Fourth being no exception. Now in its 47th year, Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular is the city’s largest fireworks exhibition and a good excuse to visit. There were an astounding 65,000 shells fired from five barges on the East River during the 2022 event. Good spots from which to see the show include FDR Drive at East 42nd Street, Gantry Plaza State Park, and Bushwick Inlet Park. The fireworks show is also televised nationally for those who are unable to attend in person.
Happy Birthday, America!