How To Have An Epic 4th of July

Posted in Family Traditions, Life Lately
on July 6, 2016
4th of July Fireworks

I just so happen to love, love, LOVE the 4th of July.  Here’s my recipe for having the most Epic 4th of July ever!

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved celebrating Independence Day.  We did the same traditions year after year…go to the 4th of July parade in the morning, have a cookout with family afterwards, enjoy playing outside, & watch fireworks in the evening.

Seems simple, right?  Sometimes the best memories in life don’t require a lot of time & money. This is why I love having traditions and sticking to them year after year.  Sure, a little variety never hurt anybody, but being able to look back to traditions that made my life a happier one is priceless to me.  And that is why we follow some of these same traditions still to this day.


On the 4th of July, we usually start the day off with the Clawson Parade.  My sister and I have been going since we were kids, and now we enjoy sharing the parade with Bri Bri (my youngest niece) every year.  Some years we are joined by others, but rest assured year after year, our bums are planted on the curb right at the beginning of the parade route….we, I mean Bri, gets more candy that way!  It’s way better than Halloween!


We’ve added a new tradition to our morning…a breakfast picnic on the lawn prior to the parade starting.  Thanks, to the new Tim Hortons on the corner, we can be all charged and ready to go for the day (have I mentioned yet that I’m a coffee addict) with an Iced Cappuccino, bagel, or donuts.  We look forward to it every year.


When it’s time for the parade to begin, we hide our before-mentioned “healthy” breakfast from the marathon-ish runners, cheer them on, & prepare to cover our ears for the fire engines that proceed.  That’s my favorite part!  I love seeing the flashing lights, the shiny trucks, & having the chance to thank our first responders.  It always opens up a conversation with my little niece about them being trust worthy.  I find myself every year saying, “If we ever need help and call 911, these are the people who are going to come help us.”  I’m like a broken record, saying the same thing year after year. But, now she thanks them too and waves, and hopefully if anything ever should happen where we do need their assistance she won’t be as scared.  As soon as they crank up the engines and sound the sirens, I get a little choked up under my sunglasses.  I don’t know why.  It’s a little embarrassing.  I just love the parade so much! So many good memories.


You can do that too as a parent, an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent, etc.  Instill these traditions and memories into your lives & your kiddos lives, and I promise it will be remembered and valued into their adulthood.  Sometimes these activities take a lot of time, effort, planning, and sometimes money.  Sometimes they don’t turn out how you’d planned.  But, that’s ok.  Keep trying.  The kids in your life will thank you some day for it.  And, it will continue to fill your bank with happy memories & sometimes funny stories to embarrass them with later!

Speaking of embarrassing stories…to see our news debut from last years parade Click Here.  I had just finished a 12 hour night shift at the hospital, was practically dressed in my pjs, hadn’t freshened my makeup or brushed my teeth, & was just hoping and praying that I was making some sort of sense. After all these years of going to the parade, that was the year we were interviewed by Fox 2.  When I felt like death warmed over!  That’s my life for ya!


One day, these good memories may be the only thing you have anymore, so make lots of them, cherish them & capture them. The time goes by so fast.

OK, enough of that soapbox. Ha!  My next favorite thing we do to celebrate America’s Birthday, is none other than a good old fashioned All-American cookout!  Since meeting my husband, we’ve tried every year to go “up north” (it’s a Michigan thing!) to his aunt and uncle’s house for their amazing 4th of July party!

We slam every bit of summer into the day.  We swim.  We play sand volleyball.  We eat burgers off the grill.  We light sparklers.  We visit with family.  We play games. We roast marshmallows for smores.  And so on and so on….  Basically it’s an amazing summer celebration & we look forward to it every year. There’s nothing I love more than smelling of chlorine sopping wet from the pool, scarfing down one of Uncle Mark’s famous BBQ burgers, & watching my “new” family (in laws can be great, right?) play sand volleyball.  Almost everything I love about summer…crammed into one glorious afternoon.


Then, if we’re not completely zonked from our day of fun, we head to Clawson Park (this is a new “tradition” to us) for some carnival rides, elephant ears, lemonade, & of course…my favorite…the fireworks! If you are alarmed that I get choked up at a parade, then don’t even ask what I do during fireworks displays.  Yikes!  Good thing it’s dark by that time, since I don’t have my sunglasses to hide my happy tears!  And, if they play patriotic music during the fireworks…well… just forget about it.  I’m a blubbering softie.  I blame my thirties and maybe a hormonal imbalance for me being such an emotional hot mess! Just kidding!


Some years, though, thanks to my career choice, I have to work at the hospital on the 4th of July!  And, since the 4th of July is my favorite summer holiday, I have a hard time going into work knowing I’m going to miss everything I love about the entire day.  It honestly was not something I thought about when I chose to be a nurse.  It’s not something that they warn you about.  They should say to you in nursing school, “oh, and by the way, you’ll have to miss some weekends and holidays with your family, do post-mortem care, & deal with lots of terrible smells”…all things I never thought about.

Because of my nursing career (which I’m very proud of), and to keep me from diving head first into depression around the holidays, we try to do as many activities as we can to celebrate.  Meaning, we don’t just celebrate the 4th of July on the 4th of July.  We celebrate for days leading up to the holiday.  There’s plenty of patriotic activities around us to get me in the 4th of July spirit.  Things like the Stars & Stripes Festival, Ribfest, Bay City Fireworks Festival, & the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at Greenfield Village.

We check the World Wide Web (say what??!!) for local fireworks displays in our area, so we can enjoy as much of this holiday as possible.  We don’t just do this for the 4th of July, either.  We make the most of the time surrounding holidays throughout the year, so that if I do have to work, I still feel like I’ve gotten to celebrate in other ways.  It lessens the sting of being at work when the rest of the world, or so it seems, is off having fun.


So, there you have it…my perfect 4th of July. But there’s still more I’d like to do to celebrate in coming years to make it even better.  So, here’s my…

4th of July Bucket List

  • Breakfast Picnic @ the Parade
  • Have a Cookout/BBQ
  • Go Swimming
  • Play Sand Volleyball
  • Catch Fireflies in Mason Jars
  • Hang a Flag
  • Tye Dye Shirts Red, White, & Blue
  • Listen to the DSO play the “1812 Overture” @ Greenfield Village
  • Watch an Old Time Baseball Game @ Greenfield Village
  • Go to a Carnival
  • Light Some Sparklers
  • Make & Eat (obviously) Ice Cream
  • Go to the Lake
  • Eat BBQ Ribs Till I’m Stuffed at Ribfest
  • Go to the Stars & Stripes Festival
  • See the Detroit Fireworks from Belle Isle
  • Kiss Under the Fireworks


Wowzers…there you go…My “4th of July Bucket List”…which I’m sure will grow as more ideas and activities come to me. What are your favorite 4th of July memories or traditions?  Leave a comment below.

Looking for more summer ideas?  Check out “101 Things To Do This Summer“.

Thanks for stopping by.  Now go out there and make some wonderful memories with your family.

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