Independence Day celebrates the United States’ declaration of independence from England. The drafters of the declaration document started working on it on July 2, and by July 4, 1776, had all the wording and edits done and approved.
A handful of cities and states celebrated the 4th of July as a holiday in the years following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and President George Washington issued all soldiers a double-ration of rum to celebrate, but Independence Day wasn’t actually declared a national holiday until 1870—nearly a century later.
What will you do to celebrate this year? Certainly the double-ration of rum is an idea, but below are a few other options.
Food and Drink
Themed food and drink are often part of holiday celebrations, and Independence Day is no exception. Outdoor cookouts and barbecues that take advantage of summer’s gorgeous weather abound with grilled meats and vegetables and loads of laughs with family and friends. The side dish table at such events is usually loaded down with fruit salads, potato salads, and green salads all done up in patriotic red, white, and blue.
Drinks seem to bring out the creative ideas in folks. Margaritas, jelly shots, sangria, panna cotta shooters, and a host of other tasty red, white, and blue themed drinks and special treats await you. George Washington would definitely approve!
Not everything on Fourth of July has to be big exciting fun. Take the kids to explore a new park. Take your sweetheart for a stroll on the beach. If you live in an area where nature abounds, hike to some scenic viewpoints or ride bikes around the lake. And if you can, pack a picnic to enjoy once you reach one of those postcard-worthy views.
If you live near a national monument or American landmark, go visit it. Often these treasures of history and interest get overlooked when they are right under our noses. Take advantage of a day off during the summer to remember how much cool stuff surrounds us.
Sports and Group Activities
Most towns have a Fourth of July parade. They’re worth getting up and fighting the crowds for! Throw those little ones up on your shoulders and go watch the fun.
There’s nothing more American than baseball, so if you live near a stadium, grab tickets to the game on Independence Day. Many places blast off fireworks over the stadium after the game so you get a prime seat for that too!
If you live in a suburb where folks are friendly, grab a few neighbors and host a block party. If a dozen of you get to grilling food, blasting good tunes, and tossing a ball or a Frisbee around, next thing you know, a bunch of strangers will stop by and you’ll have a real party going. Be sure to get bubble solution, sidewalk chalk, and plenty of sparklers for the kids. And don't forget to wear your Z-CoiLs so your fun is pain-free!
Wiffle ball bats and water balloons are optional, as are the double-rations of rum recommended by George Washington. Do party with care!
Pay Attention to Safety
Drive as little as possible on holidays when people are known to drink a lot. The less time you are on the road, the less chance you’ll be part of any drinking and driving fiascos or heavy traffic issues. Arriving late is annoying. Not arriving at all is awful!
If you’re heading for the beach, remember all the safety supplies: sun block, sun glasses, dry clothes, floatation devices, extra towels. You’ll be thankful you have them when everyone comes home healthy and happy.
Remember that fireworks often terrify animals. Close your windows and blinds and provide safe places for your furry friends to hide when the explosions start. If they are extremely jumpy, you can even leave music or the TV on, or white noise like a fan going to help drown out the noise.
Whatever you do and wherever you go, enjoy this Independence Day! We truly do have much to appreciate here in America.