The Fourth of July is the most American of all U.S. holidays – a full-blown, flag-waving celebration of the day our forefathers declared our Independence! It’s a phenomenon of festivities where food is consumed in belly-bursting quantities, music is rousing, and fireworks color the night sky like exploding wildflowers.
Amid the sparkling gaiety are some exceptional celebrations, offering touches beyond the usual. Here are five that anchor celebrants to the somber reality that lies behind the celebration – on Independence Day we came together as a single nation of shared values.
Colonial Williamsburg is a restoration of the 18th century during which the idea of America was born. It’s a living-history museum containing buildings from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, but what’s fun are the employees who work, dress, and speak like the folks who occupied the historic city. On the 4th of July, you’ll view a muster of special militia, hear a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and be moved by the music of the Fifes and Drums. In the evening fireworks shower over Market Square and Palace Green. The entire place is a celebration of who we were and what we’ve become!
New Orleans offers a world renown 4th of July spectacle on the Mississippi River. Known as the River Extravaganza, spectators watch fireworks shoot up from two “Dueling Barges” while patriotic music blares. The fireworks begin around 9 p.m., so you can peruse the multitude of shops and restaurants in the French Quarter or Riverwalk Marketplace before finding a place to watch the fireworks. Want a really close view? Try a “fireworks cruise” offered by steamboats that also serve food and drink while you gasp at the explosive display.
Every July 4th the City of Music celebrates U.S. independence with free patriotic music by the Nashville Symphony and a gigantic fireworks exposition. The WOW factor? The live music is choreographed to the fireworks. In addition, music superstars provide an unforgettable Nashville songfest. Throw in family and interactive activities, great food, giveaways, games, and shopping, and Nashville offers an outstanding day of celebration.
The Today Show calls this one of the country’s best July 4th celebrations. The abundant fireworks are visible all over town and the lake front. The best views, however, are on paddle-wheelers or yachts that take you under the fireworks, or from a helicopter that takes you over the action. Earlier in the day there’s a parade, as well as beaches and areas for picnics and barbecues. Nature is the catalyst for an incredible celebration.
Independence Day starts early in Bar Harbor, with everyone gathering for a 6 a.m. blueberry pancake breakfast. The day is rich with activity, including a downtown parade, a marketplace for crafts, and energetic live music. Imagine an all-day seafood festival serving lobster, mussels, and corn-on-the-cob. And, the lobsters not eaten run races! The day is full of fun, ending with fireworks displayed along the waterfront. This is an all-American 4th of July!
Every year, all across the states, we embrace the 4th of July with the traditions most meaningful to our families and local communities. It’s all good! No matter what tradition is observed, the goal is the same: a joyful celebration of the day that established our American spirit.
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