On July 4th, those of us in the US take a day out to celebrate .
So, in the spirit of Independence, we asked Silverline Creators: What are some of your July 4th traditons?
Mike W. Belcher
Growing up, we didn’t have big Fourth of July events. We always had a flag flying outside the house. Typically this small carnival would come to town for a few days usually ending on the night of the fourth. It was your typical traveling carnival. The workers usually looked pretty sketchy. The rides looked old and you’d take your life in your own hands riding them. But there was something fun and comfortable about. We’d walk back home and cook out a small meal. Usually just hamburgers and hot dogs. We’d end the night walking out the back door to watch the fireworks the city would set off. Friends would come over to watch them with us. It was small but we had fun.
Growing up, we still watch the fireworks the city sets off. We cook out if we have the time. Adulthood has set me too straight on going to the carnival now. But at the end of the day, we all know what we’re celebrating and are grateful for what we have and what this country offers us.
July 4th celebrations at the Davis household:
Pre-COVID our family had a yearly get together with family friends who live a couple of hours away here in Missouri. We are fortunate to live on a property outside any city limits of about five acres with a big field to the south of the house and a patch of trees on about one and a half acres to the east of the house blocking the nearby two lane highway from the house. Living where there are no restrictions on fireworks use and a piece of property big enough to have the staging ground safely away from our house and any others nearby we would host a modest fireworks display and feast. I start early in the day grilling and smoking the meats and vegetables for our guests who usually arrive in time for a late lunch. We visit while we eat inside if it’s too hot or enjoy the deck or patio if it’s not. We might do some video or board games until the sun gets behind the house a bit then head outdoors to set off “daytime” fireworks like smoke bombs, snakes, firecrackers and “poppers”. The daytime highlight is always the parachute poppers that each of the younger generation set off and then chase down and attempt to catch the floating chutes. Despite all of the “kids” being grown up this is still as much fun as it was when they were little. By the time the daytime event has finished it’s time to consume the leftovers from lunch, watch a video or play more games until the sun goes down enough for night-time pyrotechnics. At dusk we start with sparklers and graduate to the display fireworks alternating roman candles, rockets, and waterfall like displays with mortar shells that explode in the sky with spectacular flower-sprays. There’s usually one last set of explosives to cap off the celebration and our family friends head back home while we clean up what we can of the aftermath and make sure any embers are well extinguished.
With everyone of the folks in the two families now vaxxed that can be we’re looking forward to starting up the tradition again in 2021.
I like to think I celebrate the Fourth of July in much the same way as most others, but with my own little twist on it. The standard procedure is grill some juicy burgers for lunch and then head over to the riverfront park which has usually been converted into something like a fair for the week leading into the holiday. The walkways are lined with vendors and the central promenade hosts a large stage featuring some okay, bordering on good, talent. We do the standard thing, buy some over priced elephant ears, set up some camp chairs and watch the fireworks over the river once it gets dark.
What I think is really dope happens during the parade that crosses two of the suburbs in our metro area. I happen to know the guy who used to have a long board factory in the area and he has a slot in the parade each year. He gets a bunch of skate boarders and longboarders together, and we cruise up and the down the parade as it travels, blasting past the retirement home floats, and bombing/carving down the hill that happens to be on the parade route. It was cancelled last year, as most things were, but two years ago, I did this while wearing an American Flag onesie. I found myself in several photos later as well as in the reel the city put together. Unfortunately, it looks like I won’t be able to break the onesie out again this year, but maybe next year!
The Manns often find themselves in Piggott, Arkansas for the 4th of July celebrations. Piggott is a small town in NE Arkansas with a population fewer than 4,000. They celebrate the 4th, however, like a much larger town.
The 4th of July serves as a bit of a family reunion for the community of Piggott and Clay County in general. For as long as I can remember, trips to visit family happened during Christmas and on July 4th.
On the morning of the 4th, the Huffmans (my Mom’s family) would make their way to a spot near the railroad tracks around 8:30am to get a good viewing spot for the parade. Starting at 9am, the parade, which runs about one mile from the First Baptist Church down Main Street until it reaches the fairgrounds. Like many small town parades, it features the local ball teams, beauty queens, and politicians. Occasionally a state politician would make the visit and participate in the parade.
At 10am, the politicians take the stage and blow all their hot air. I never really paid any attention to them except that short while I was an editor at the local rag. Depending on how hot it was would generally determine how long they talked. They’d be followed by bands/singers throughout about lunch.
We would make our way to the “kitchen” or hamburger stand and grab lunch…then head home. Often, family would all head to my grandparents’ house—in later years, that house became my parents’ house. The next several hours were full of conversations, catching up, naps, and lots of laughing.
The family would head back to the “picnic” (which is really just a small fair) and eat and ride some rides (younger ones), watch the beaty pageants, or just catch up with friends and extended family.
At 10pm, the community heads to the high school football field for the yearly fireworks. Then, when that is done, the “raffle” winners are announced and everyone heads home.
All the money raised at the Fourth of July Picnic in Piggott goes to the upkeep and care of the city cemetery. Every weekend following and into August, the surrounding communities have their own picnics to raise money for their own cemeteries.
And that’s pretty much the 4th traditions for the Manns.
Happy Treason Day, you ungrateful Colonials!