Fun activities add sparks to the Fourth


Independence Day is cause to celebrate being an American, whether you were born here or emigrated for the promise of a better life. Don't let this Fourth of July pass by without a proper celebration.

Sarah on planning ahead:

If you wake up on the Fourth wondering what to do, it's probably not going to be too memorable. Take a few minutes this week to plan some activities that will make the day feel special. If you're stumped for ideas, break down the day into four parts: a special morning event (often a parade); a lunchtime or afternoon event; dinner; and fireworks.

Our favorite tradition is to start the day with flag-shaped pancakes. Blueberries and bacon serve as the stars and stripes on the rectangular "flag" pancakes. Then we take in a small-town parade and have an afternoon barbecue with good friends we don't get to see often. We top off the day with fireworks - sometimes a big show, and sometimes a little one. No matter the size, fireworks are always a treat.


Alicia on lightening your load:

You don't have to do all the planning yourself. The day will be a lot more fun if everyone gets to put a special stamp on it. If you're single, call a good friend and plan a fun-filled day together. Split the day in half - have one person plan the earlier part of the day and the other plan the late afternoon and evening. If you're wrangling family members, don't be shy about asking them to help. It's always neat to see what fun ideas others come up with.

Here are a few additional ideas for a memorable Independence Day:

1. Read the Declaration of Independence aloud after dinner.

Whether you're celebrating alone or with lots of friends and family, take 10 or 15 minutes - before the fireworks - to read the Declaration aloud. It is short, to the point and elegant, so it's not a difficult assignment. It is an incredible reminder of the powerful ideals that shape this country, and it's a wonderful way to reaffirm your American citizenship.

2. Do something quintessentially American.

Attend a rodeo. Visit an amusement park. Listen to jazz. Check out a parade. Have a root-beer float. Play touch football, horseshoes or badminton. Almost anything goes, as long as it's made in America.

3. Host a neighborhood barbecue before the fireworks.

Make it a potluck, with instructions for everyone to bring their signature Fourth of July side dish, dessert or drink. That way, you won't be slaving in the kitchen all day or spending a fortune to feed everyone.

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