Rules for the Fourth of July

Posted 6/30/10

As holidays go, July 4 is a major biggie for me that holds it own with Christmas and Thanksgiving at the top of the list. But despite its name, …

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Rules for the Fourth of July


As holidays go, July 4 is a major biggie for me that holds it own with Christmas and Thanksgiving at the top of the list. But despite its name, Independence Day isn’t without its dos and don’ts:

The first would seem like a no-brainer for a holiday most of us know as July 4, but let’s agree to celebrate it in style on the fourth day of the month and the fourth only. Observed holidays are OK for some celebrations, but not this one. I’m not talking about the home-grown celebrations here (lest my neighbors think I’m speaking out against the cul-de-sac’s July 5 50-percent-off fireworks display, which I enjoyed immensely last year and will participate in this year).

I’m talking about the parades and large-scale fireworks shows that go on. There always seems to be one community that tries to beat the competition by staging its celebration a day earlier or later. This year, it’s Parker that has its events on July 3. Just do it on the fourth like everyone else, even if it hurts your own event’s turnout. Besides, one of the best ways to enjoy fireworks shows is to plant yourself on a hill where you can see three or four shows in one panorama.

This is nothing new, but Lone Tree needs to dump the wristband policy for its festivities. If you’re not familiar, the Sweetwater Park show requires a wristband for admittance and wristbands are only available to residents of Lone Tree and Acres Green. It’s not that I want to crash the party, it’s that there is something un-American about having a July 4 celebration that excludes other Americans. We have enough real issues with border control going on right now without Lone Tree getting into the mix.

Eat a hot dog. I’ve been trying to change my diet for the healthier lately. Add that to the fact that my wife’s doctor told her to refrain from hot dogs due to carcinogens when she was pregnant with our daughter, it’s been pretty easy to take dogs off the list. But it’s the Fourth of July so health be damned. And for those of you who are thinking, “A hot dog is really a German frankfurter,” I don’t care. My grandfather was German and one of the best examples of what it means to be American. That’s the great thing about being an American, you can borrow from others and call it your own after a while. In many ways, that’s the whole point.

Reflect a little, please. It’s a summer party weekend and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just make sure you give some thought to what we’re really celebrating. Read a book about the founding fathers, watch a documentary, thank a veteran or do whatever you have to do to put the day in its proper context. I shudder to think of the number of people who treat July 4 as a three-day weekend and spend no time in reverence to its meaning.

Watch at least an inning of a baseball game and listen to 10 minutes of blues or jazz music. There aren’t many things Americans can call their own (see the hot dog example above), so we need to make hay with what we have. These are it.

Lastly, be safe. The Fourth of July is a party worth enjoying, now as much as ever, but do it right and make sure you’re around for Veterans Day.

Jeremy Bangs is the managing editor of Colorado Community Newspapers.


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