Fourth of July Traditions by Deb Gail

I’m not a huge fan of the Fourth of July. I don’t like fireworks or char-grilled meat or planned activities and having grown up with leftist parents and having attended an even more leftist liberal arts college, the whole forced patriotic thing still brings out the rebel in me.

This is not to say that I don’t participate in the ENORMOUS celebration my neighborhood has every year. A celebration so big that there are several pages in the “Village” handbook dedicated to the festivities starting with the annual third of July firemen’s dance where the kids play flashlight tag without flashlights in the field across from the firehouse, while the grown-ups drink too much and flirt shamelessly. There’s always a group dance starting with the outdated Macarena and ending with a sing-a-long to “Bye-bye Miss American Pie.”

The morning of the Fourth starts with a bake sale and challenge baseball game between the older and younger men (notice no women) and a parade of decorated bikes and floats that follow the fire trucks and “Village” officials around and around and around the school. And then a whole day of organized activities including egg tosses and pie-eating contests and a big macho water hose fight between the firefighters and whoever chooses to challenge them. There are women who participate in that now and one year my best friend and I organized a team with our husbands and a couple of other couples and we dressed the men dressed as women in pink push-up bras and the women as men in “David” (from the sculpture) boxer shorts. The firemen didn’t know what to make of that! And then later there’s a big cookout on the lawn of the elementary school where we sprawl on blankets eating and drinking with our friends and discussing who won the water fight and how somebody cheated (every year we say that!) and after that there’s the trek up the hill for fireworks…

And writing all this down is choking me up a bit, making me realize that maybe I kind of like all stuff we do on the Fourth of July. And maybe… just maybe, I don’t dislike traditions as much as I think I do…


9 Replies to “Fourth of July Traditions by Deb Gail”

  1. I love it when the actual writing about something brings you around to a new way of looking (or feeling) about it.

    BTW, we celebrate Canada Day on July 1st (tomorrow) and many of the traditions are the same–not as your personal ones, Gail, but as the U.S.

  2. This one totally took me by surprise, Danielle. In fact I resisted writing it until the last minute thinking I can’t write about traditions…

  3. I think it is always interesting how we discover the personal within the larger tradition that appeals to us. I know some people who say they hate Christmas- but what they hate is the over the top mall aspect- they love the small traditions that make it personal to them.

  4. That sounds like a very fun day. I love going to local parades where they drag out all the little beauty queen winners and the veterans and the dog walkers. I remember one local parade where some drunken interlopers joined the fray sitting in a co-opted shopping cart with a toilet plunger. The guy’s friend pushed the cart at the top of the hill and let go. He was lucky he remained intact!

    We have a sweet neighborhood parade–the kids decorate their bikes with all things red, white and blue and the folks with golf carts do up their carts with bunting. Others walk their dogs though the pavement is usually far too hot for that. Sometimes someone shows up with their horse. The parade lasts all of about seven minutes.

  5. so true about Christmas, Eileen!!

    See Jenny I don’t know if I actually like the day and when I anticipate it really don’t like it but I do have some good memories of it

    Life has never been a simple equation for me, Larramie, maybe because I really sucked at math!

  6. Oh, I love the 4th. Summer, friends, fun. We always have a huge party at our house–we can watch the fireworks from our front yard–but this year will be a little bittersweet because one son will be up in Michigan for a 4-day concert and my older son will be here but then is moving to Seattle to begin his “adult” life and who knows when he’ll be back for our 4th of July shin-dig.

    Anyway, yours sounds great, Gail, and I keep wondering which “village” it is–Shorewood?

    We’re having Wisconsin-y summer weather right now and I’m loving it.

  7. Sounds like a great tradition to me. I created a website to encourage people to celebrate traditions and create lasting memories. Traditions are really an important part of our lives, they help to bring families and friends closer together by giving them experiences over which to bond. I invite you to share your wonderful 4th of July memories and traditions on the website for others to read,

    Happy 4th of July!
    Colleen Carmona

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