On July 4, there are some things you must do

Don’t fight it. There are some Fourth of July activities best done year after year after year.

Here is our top 10 list of things to do every July 4.

Go ahead, and check each one off.

1. Burn sparklers.

Writing your name in sparklers at night is a traditional thing to do on the Fourth of July.

Sparklers come in many colors and burn long enough for all names, from shorties such as Alex to longer ones like Alexander, to be written in burning light.

Note: Dispose of them responsibly. Don’t half-heartedly extinguish them only to start a fire later in the night. Not cool.

2. Devour a hot dog or burger.

Remember when eating a hot dog with cheese inside was a really big deal? Maybe that was just in the Midwest.

Anyway, it turns out that there are hot dogs and burgers available for nearly every specific dietary guidelines. Grilling is a must.

3. Spit watermelon seeds.

Sometimes they’re a pain to cut, but watermelons are still a summer treat.

There are people who like to separate out the seeds on a plate before they eat the fruit. Other folks like to separate the seeds after they put the watermelon in their mouths.

Whatever. Stage a contest, and start spitting. Seed farthest out wins.

4. Watch a local fireworks show.

Some people — and some people’s pets — don’t like the sound of exploding fireworks. If that’s you, get as far away from the launch point as possible and invest in earplugs. Also, put a blanket or towel down in the bathroom so the pets can hide.

Everyone else, pull out the lawn chairs and enjoy the show. No matter your age, there is still something cool about bursts of bright light in night sky.

5. Host a party or go to one.

With this three-day Fourth of July weekend, for some of us, there is ample time to organize a party or accept an invitation to one.

Hang out with friends or family or both. Make sure there is plenty of water and at least a couple shady places to escape the heat. Have a theme and be sure to tell your guests.

If you plan to attend a party and the host is stretched thin, volunteer to bring a dish or two or maybe a lawn game or water game for children.

6. Eat apple pie.

As the saying goes, “... as American as apple pie.” And so there is no better time to eat it than on America’s birthday.

Sure, the saying perhaps was a marketing ploy to take advantage of patriotism, but who cares? It worked.

Plus, apple pie tastes good, especially with vanilla ice cream.

7. Be in a parade or attend one.

The size of a July 4 parade and number of floats may vary from year to year and town to town, but nearly every community has one.

Assuming you get a good spot on the curb and are comfortable, the parade can be an enjoyable time and even an educational experience.

You can learn about who is running for various offices, what activities are available for children in the area and how loud the sirens are on the local fire engines.

8. Wear red, white and blue.

Those three colors are often in a wardrobe in some capacity.

True, the colors are rarely worn together because anytime you wear them together, some smart-aleck might ask, “Wow. What do you think today is, the Fourth of July?” Well, now it is.

9. Get outside.

There is one activity that is exclusive to this area: a hike that takes you next to Independence Monument in Colorado National Monument.

It’s the Monument Canyon Trail, which has two access points, one in the monument and the other off Colorado Highway 340. Go to http://www.nps.gov/colm/planyourvisit/hiking.htm to learn more about this trail and others in the monument.

For those not up for a longer hike, consider watching as the Mesa County Search and Rescue’s technical team scales Independence Monument’s 450 feet and raises the U.S. flag on the morning of July 4.

A ranger will lead a 1-mile guided walk starting 10:30 a.m. at the Otto’s Trailhead 1 mile east of the Visitor Center on Rim Rock Drive. The ranger will share in formation about the annual climb up Independence Monument that was begun by John Otto.

Rangers also will be at the Independence Monument View Overlook from 9:30 a.m. to noon to answer questions and watch the flag-raising, which is expected to be between 11–11:30 a.m.

10. Sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Don’t be a spectator. At most sporting events, when the anthem is played, people listen, hum quietly or sing in a hushed voice.

However, the Fourth of July is a perfect time to belt out the national anthem. Just learn the lyrics if you don’t already know them.

Don’t be mistaken for Carl Lewis or Roseanne Barr. You’d rather be taken for Neil Diamond in Super Bowl XXI or Marvin Gaye at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game. View video of these memorable moments in national anthem-singing history on YouTube.


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