10 hot places to be for the 4th of July
BY Kelly Pittman
No holiday inspires a party like the Fourth of July. From coast to coast and top to bottom family friends fireworks picnics and barbecues are the way to celebrate our independence. But if backyard bottle rockets just won’t do the trick this year don’t despair. Here are 10 extremely cool places to get hot on the Fourth. We’ll start you off close to home but fireworks fly from here to Denmark (really Denmark) so if you’re looking for an incredible Independence Day adventure you’ve come to the right place! FYI the Wrightsville Beach Police Department wants you to know that fireworks are not permitted on Wrightsville Beach.
1. The party starts early at our Wilmington area beaches. Celebrate on July 3 by bringing a chair and sitting right on the sand as you watch a fireworks show at dusk in Carolina Beach. On July 4 take in the patriotic scenery as you tour the Battleship North Carolina across the Cape Fear River from downtown Wilmington. Along the riverfront vendors sell food from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and bands will play in Riverfront Park. Then one of the largest fireworks demonstrations in the state explodes over the battleship at 9:05 p.m. Watch it from a dinner cruise aboard Wilmington’s Henrietta III or find a spot along the river. Also don’t forget the Independence Day service in the Wilmington National Cemetery 11 a.m. Visit www.cape-fear.nc.us for times.
2. Looking for four full days of Fourth of July festivities? Look no farther than quaint Southport. This charming small town has been celebrating America’s Independence in a big way for more than 200 years. The official N.C. Fourth of July Festival from July 1-4 has something for everyone. Music from top 40 and country bands fills the air and the smell of great food is everywhere. Vendors sell homemade crafts as dancers and patriotic town members march in the annual parade. There are games and entertainment for children and an emotionally striking ceremony to honor veterans. Take a chair and don’t forget your old stars and stripes for the fabulous flag retirement ceremony. Finally see magnificent fireworks light the sky over the Cape Fear River. Call the Southport Chamber of Commerce: (910) 457-5578 or visit www.nc4thofjuly.com.
3. Cars are prohibited on the exclusive and historical Bald Head Island just a few miles off North Carolina’s southeastern coast but Independence Day visitors are more than welcome! You can get there by ferry then explore the naturally beautiful island on bikes or golf carts. An Independence Day parade of decorated golf carts fills the streets on July 4. Also enjoy a carnival and have a picnic on the commons. At dusk enjoy a fireworks display aboard a cruise that leaves from the Bald Head Island Marina. Call the Bald Head Island Information Center at 800-234-2441.
4. As you celebrate the fourth don’t forget about your best friend! Enter your beloved in the Annual Pet Parade at the Village of Pinehurst the beautiful golf community’s town square. The pet parade begins the morning of July 4 and is followed by the Village Community Parade. Hear live music and see the Marine Corps Color Guard and Irish dancers (for parade information call (910) 295-7462). Then paint the town again with the Old Fashioned Independence Day Celebration. Ponies games food and entertainment can be found at the Fair Barn of Pinehurst Harness Track. Fireworks begin at 9 p.m. Call (910) 295-0166 for more information.
5. Celebrate Independence Day in an old coastal town listed on the National Register of Historic Places and known for its beauty and history. Ocracoke will hold 12 hours worth of activities for all ages: a sand-sculpting contest a visit from the famous Blackbeard Pirate a parade ponies and food. Take a tour of the Ocracoke Lighthouse — the Fourth of July is the only time of year the lighthouse is open — then see real sky-divers jump from real planes! While you’re there stay in a historic bed and breakfast and finish the day with a magnificent sunset over the water and fireworks at 9 p.m. For more details call the business phone: (252) 926-9171 or toll free: 888-493-3826.
6. Head to North Carolina’s mountains for great music and family festivities that will make you feel like a kid again. In downtown Asheville listen to a wide variety of music from live bands playing on several stages. Enter pie-eating and watermelon seed-spitting contests and three-legged races. Play miniature golf and softball and climb a rock wall with the whole family. Favorite vendors will offer food and drinks. The night will end with a bang as fireworks scorch the southern sky at dusk. Visit www.exploreasheville.com for details.
7. What better place to celebrate our country’s major independence mojo than in Washington D.C.? America’s Independence Day Parade begins the morning of July 4. Bands in the parade are recommended by the governor’s office of each state and fly in for the occasion. Besides the bands the big parade offers celebrities specialty units floats and much more. When the parade ends a full day of festivities unfolds at the National Mall with a Smithsonian Folklife Festival that displays cultural groups throughout America music by popular groups and the National Symphony Orchestra. After dark experience ultimate patriotism as fireworks illuminate the U.S. Capitol and other national monuments. Visit www.washington.org.
8. Macy’s July Fourth Fireworks Spectacular promises that the largest fireworks show in the world will happen in New York City beginning at 9 p.m. Barges on the East River will set off 20 000 aerial shells while the New York City Fire Department sprays red clear and blue water 300 feet over the river. While you’re there tune into 1010 WINS to hear music synchronized with the show. If you can’t get to the Big Apple see the show from your living room on NBC. Visit www.ny.com/holiday/july4 or call (212) 494-4495.
9. If you want to see patriotism on the faces of thousands of Americans the place to be is Boston Massachusetts. The free events on July 3 and 4 are open to anyone and can hold crowds from 400 000- 700 000 people says Boston’s event Web site. On both days the Boston Pops Concert begins at 8:30 p.m. On the fourth fireworks begin at 10:30 p.m. at the Music Oval. The best view of the fireworks is on the Cambridge side of the river with the beautiful Boston skyline as the backdrop. Avoid the crowd but still enjoy an amazing show at the city’s Community Boating Docks a family area offering a cookout and broadcast of the Pops concert. There’s a fee to get in but with a wristband families can come and go throughout the evening which concludes with the fireworks display over the water. Visit www.july4th.org.
10. Can you really celebrate America’s Independence Day outside the United States? Yes you can. Many Americans travel to Bakker Denmark on July 4 for the largest celebration of U.S. freedom outside the USA. Hundreds of thousands of people from Europe and America gather on the grassy hills of Rebild National Park given to Denmark by Danish-Americans in 1912 to honor America’s Day of Independence. Festivities begin on July 3 with the election of an American “Mayor for a Day” and a parade in which participants wear traditional Danish folk costumes and Sioux regalia. Music and fireworks set the tone for well-known speakers. In the past Presidents George Bush Ronald Reagan and other respected leaders have spoken. Visit www.rebildfesten.dk.