Photo Source: Visit Gettysburg, PA
From sea to shining sea, the 4th of July is a day of celebration. Whether it’s the Macy’s fireworks extravaganza in New York City, a small town parade, or a backyard BBQ, July 4th is all about the red, white and blue. If you’re looking for a unique July 4th celebration, check out these fun events around the country.
Nestled in the lovely Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee lays claim to being the first Independence Day celebration of the year. How do they do it? They start the July 4th parade at midnight. Paying tribute to the brave men and women of the military, a hundred thousand people stay up to enjoy this late night event. Marching bands, floats and balloons parade through the streets and kick-off the big USA birthday bash.
July 4th may be all about celebrating our independence from England but on the British built Queen Mary in Long Beach, California all is forgiven. Celebrate with an all-American patriotic journey from the east coast to the west. Start at Coney Island with a carnival atmosphere of strolling performers, carnival games, and face painting. Then head down to a Nashville tailgate with a live country music DJ and line dancing. Next it’s down to the Deep South as you take a tour of Louisiana showcasing dueling pianos and a New Orleans marching band. From there, head out west for some Hollywood glitz and glamour before bidding aloha from Hawaii. The celebration aboard the historic Queen Mary is truly a sea to shining sea celebration capped off by a fabulous fireworks show.
To truly appreciate the unity of the United States, take a trip back to a time when the country was bitterly divided. On July 1st through July 3rd in 1863 the bloody Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War. Get a feel for the intensity of the battle in the days leading up to July 4th at the 153rd Gettysburg Battle Anniversary Reenactment overlooking the Round Tops and historic Sachs Mill Covered Bridge adjoining Gettysburg National Military Park.
When the battle is over, celebrate restored patriotism at the 4th of July Patriotic Pops Concert and Fireworks interactive family-friendly event at Gettysburg College. A popular local band, The Willys, will kick off the evening with a 90-minute set. Afterwards, the Gala Pops Orchestra will perform a concert featuring popular American tunes and marches. Following the musical performances, guests will have a front row view of the fireworks spectacular.
Designated by congress as "America’s Small Town 4th of July City", Seward, Nebraska has hosted an old-fashioned family celebration every July 4th since 1868. Located 20 minutes west of the capital city of Lincoln in the Blue River Valley, Seward is home to about 6,000 people. But on the 4th of July, the town is filled with upwards of 40,000 visitors who arrive to witness parades, track and field events, parachutists, a wild west shootout, and much more. There’s also a walking tour of "Small Town USA." What’s really cool about the events is that most of them are planned and carried out by the youth of the community. If you’re looking for a small town Americana experience, Seward is the place.
San Diego is all about the Navy with bases on Coronado Island as well as in the city proper. It would stand to reason that a city with a big military presence would need to do July 4th in a big way – and San Diego does not disappoint. Coronado hosts events throughout the day including a two-hour parade, a concert in Spreckels Park and fireworks over Glorietta Bay.
The sky lights up even more at the epic 20-minute Big Bay Boom fireworks display over San Diego Bay. The largest display of its kind in the region, Big Bay Boom attracts more than 850,000 visitors to San Diego’s waterfront. Fireworks are launched simultaneously from four barges placed around the bay and choreographed to music broadcast live on the local radio station. The Big Bay Boom fireworks display is so large that it can be seen throughout downtown San Diego, neighboring Coronado, Point Loma, and many communities throughout the city. Great viewing spots are all along the bay front or aboard a harbor cruise.
What’s your favorite way to celebrate July 4th?
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Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer whose work includes travel, spirits, and all things chocolate. Terri's work appears in several publications. She has been a featured guest on Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Travel radio program and Denver's KZKO Radio Morning Express show. Terri will not hesitate to go to the source for great chocolate - even if that means hiking through the jungle and picking cacao pods herself.
Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the United States, Europe, and into Central and South America. Favorite adventures include reindeer driving in Norway and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle of Peru. You can keep up with Terri's adventures on her website www.TrippingwithTerri.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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