Ever since that glorious day on July 4, 1776, when this country officially cut the ol’ umbilical cord with Great Britain, Americans have come together on this festive day for a traditional itinerary of parades and backyard parties all leading up to a patriotic Independence Day display of fireworks under the evening sky.
The day before America’s founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, John Adams made note that the occasion should be “solemnized” every year, with “shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” Well, perhaps with the exception of guns and bells, we’ve remained faithful to his wishes. Families across the nation have filled the parks, beaches and backyards with patriotic Independence Day celebrations ever since.
Perhaps the biggest party was held in 1976, for the Bicentennial celebration. Leading up to the event, patriotic displays were visible in every corner of the land, from the America Sings attraction at Disneyland to the red, white and blue Freedom Train, making its intercontinental trek and greeted by crowds at every stop.
The Smithsonian Institution even opened a popular new attraction called The Air and Space Museum. Finally, when the big day arrived, it was covered extensively by every major news organization with huge events taking place in every city, most notably in New York Harbor, which was filled to the brim with tall sailing ships to mark the occasion.
Traditional celebrations of Independence Day almost always include three things; spending a day in the hot sun, grilling tons of food, and watching the night sky illuminated with fireworks. In earlier decades, we were a little more participatory in the last regard, with fireworks stands common on nearly every street corner. There wasn’t a kid in America that didn’t beg to show their patriotism by waving their very own sparkler. Sadly, the dangers of fireworks eventually extinguished their sale in many states, with most people nowadays preferring to let the professionals set off the pyrotechnics.
Most importantly, the Fourth in July is a time for citizens to remember their country’s roots, to wave their flags proudly as a parade marches by, to share time with friends and loved ones and be thankful for all the freedom that comes with being an American.
At Retroland, we want to hear about your own Fourth of July celebrations and family traditions. If you have any fond memories of the Bicentennial, we’d love to hear those as well. Share your thoughts in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this truly American holiday.