4th of July Family Traditions!
June 14, 2017|Posted in: Holidays and Seasons
4th of July is one of my very favorite holidays because there’s much less spending, shopping, decorating and preparing involved than with the other major holidays. Independence Day is about relaxing, celebrating and enjoying family! Our city, Layton, Utah does an excellent job of planning holiday festivities and we’ve been enjoying them for many years! Our city offices are surrounded by a beautiful park with a bowery, an amphitheater, a wave pool, ball diamonds, and a high school. All of these nice facilities provide the perfect spot for summer holiday celebrations! Here are a few of our traditions:
4th of July Traditions
Steaking Out Our Gathering Spot – As much as two days before the 4th of July people begin to “steak out” their spots in the city park and on the lawn of the high school. They will literally pound steaks into the ground and connect them with tape to secure a great location as a home base for the days activities. Our family always puts out blankets and lawn chairs on the 3rd or sometimes even earlier. So far we’ve been lucky and have always gotten our traditional favorite place on the corner next to the amphitheater.
Family – From early in the morning, until late at night family members come and go from our gathering spot – sisters, bros-in-law, moms and dads, sons, daughters, grandmas and grandpas, grandkids, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins, along with occassional friends and relatives-in-law! They stop to rest in the shade and visit with other family members until they’re off again to meet up with friends, visit the carnival or find a cool drink.
Patriotic Clothing – Everyone always wears red, white and blue, Americana clothing and attire right down to flip flops, jewelry, and even fingernail and toenail polish! For several years now I’ve had a tradition of buying my grandkids t-shirts for the 4th of July and then taking fun photos of them. My daughter recently launched her photography business, Memories by Tara, so we had a super fun photo shoot this year.
Breakfast in Park – To get the day started off with a “bang” our city, Layton, Utah hosts a breakfast in the park. For a small fee you can go and enjoy a delicious meal before the parade. I’ve never attended (opting instead to start my holiday off by sleeping in), but my sister and her husband have made it a tradition of their own for several years!
Independence Day Parade – We always enjoy the parade, with marching bands, floats, horses and of course salt water taffy! For several years when we had our private school we designed, built and entered our very own float in the the parade and had our students ride or march along side. That was a lot of work and a lot of fun too!
Model A Cars – Two of my bros-in-law have Model A cars and belong to a car club that often participates in the parade. It’s fun to see all of the old cars, hear them honk their “A-Oooo-Ga” horns and to waive at family members driving in the parade while we watch from curbside.
Baseball Games – What’s more American than Baseball?! Our city holds baseball games during the day on the 4th of July. Years ago, when he was a little boy, my nephew played on city baseball teams. Now he’s all grown up and coaches his daughters’ soccer teams instead. But that is another fun thing to do to celebrate the holiday!
Carnival – Starting around noon the park fills up with all kinds of booths and fun vendors. There are all kinds of trinkets, and do-dads and bobbles to buy, snow cones, cotton candy, burgers and bbq on a stick to eat, and a mechanical bull, games and bounce houses to play in! The festive atmosphere is exciting and the kids (and adults) all love it!
Snacks – We always bring and stash snacks at our gathering place. Each of my sisters and I have a speciality that we bring, mine is a huge bowl of fresh fruit with plastic cups and forks to dish it up with and dig in. One sister brings a snack mix with peanuts amd M&Ms, another chocolate chip and oatmeal scotchie cookies and the third, carmel popcorn! We look forward to enjoying these goodies all year!
Face Painting – Of course the carnival always includes a face painting booth, but it usually costs a pretty penny to have them draw their designs on our little munchkins mugs! So my sister came up with the brilliant idea of bringing her own face paint. The artists in the family now adorn the smiling faces of our little holiday merry makers with firecrackers, rainbows, and starbursts, for a fraction of the cost!
Water Bottle Fans – Hot temperatures are one of our least favorite 4th of July traditions! To combat the heat, we try to wear cool clothes, pull our hair up and use canopies and umbrellas to provide some extra shade. One great way we’ve found to cool off is to buy water bottles with a fan attached. You can find them in stores all over the place this time of year and they are an amazing way to beat the heat!
Running into Acquaintances & Old Friends – Inevitably every year most of us run into old friends or acquaintances that we hardly ever see. It’s fun to wonder who we’ll see “this year” and to search the passing crowds for familiar faces!
More Family Fun!
Personal Fireworks – It’s fun to purchase our own fireworks and do them together as a family. It’s way too crowded to do this at the park (though every year some inconsiderate folks do it anyway) so we usually do ours on one of the days just before or after the holiday.
Patriotic Concert – An hour or two before dark the orchestra begins a concert featuring patriotic music in the amphitheater right next to our gathering spot. Many people fill the amphitheather to watch while we relax in our lawn chairs and on our blankets, able to hear the music just fine!
Glow Sticks – One of my sisters has made it a tradition to purchase glow sticks for all of the kids just as it begins to get dark. The kids toss and wave them, make necklaces and wear them around their necks or swing them around their arms and have a grand time as they light up the dark with their glowing colors!
Spectacular City Fireworks Display – The climactic finish to our wonderful day is always the spectacular fireworks display put on by our city! The patriotic music continues to play throughout the pretty lengthy show and there is always an amazing grand fanally! Last year they accidentally started the show with the grand fanally – it was funny and kind of exciting and the rest of the show is so grand that we really didn’t mind at all!
Waiting for the Crowd to Clear – Of course after the fireworks everybody wants to go home at the same time and that creates some pretty significant traffic jams, though the city does a good job of clearing it out fairly quickly. Most of our family hangs around and visits while we wait for the traffic to clear. The sleepy children run around and play together in the darkness while the grownups pack up all our belongings and visit about what a great day it was and the park around us transforms from a busy, bustling celebration to a quiet, deserted (and slightly littered) normal park again. Then we all head to our cars, happy, tired and looking forward to doing it all again next year!
Check your city’s website (or those of surrounding cities) to find fun ways to celebrate with your family!
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