Fireworks, barbeques, fairs, parades and concerts— all staples found at a classic Independence Day celebration. In this year when lots of traditional activities have been canceled, we looked around the US for alternative ideas, and found inspiration in communities that have always done things differently. These takeoffs on lobsters, anvils and golf-carts will set you up with unique and unconventional ways to commemorate the Fourth of July.
Warren, a small New-England town in the Green Mountains, boasts an annual Fourth of July parade that centers around a patriotic theme. This year’s theme, before the parade was canceled, was “United We Stand,” and was expected to include strong displays of political statements, prominent politicians and other famous locals. The town normally also hosts street dancing and live musical performances throughout the day, with a fireworks show at nearby Sugarbush Resort at night.
2020 Twist: Warren’s political celebration reminds us that this holiday originated to commemorate the Declaration of Independence. How about having a family or socially-distanced community reading of the original document this Fourth of July?
At this port city in Alaska, fireworks aren’t that important since the midnight sun appears throughout the summer and lights up the sky through the night. Instead, residents of Seward host one of the toughest 5K races in the world: Seward’s Mount Marathon Race. Racers must start in downtown Seward and climb over Mount Marathon (with an elevation gain of about 3,000 feet) to the finish line on the other side of the mountain. This run, founded in 1915, is one of America’s oldest races and features a course that draws elite runners due to its difficulty.
2020 Twist: Though you probably can’t get to Seward this year, you can still hold your own 5K around your neighborhood and race with family and friends. And frankly, the coronavirus has made so much of life a challenge, you may feel as though you have already run a marathon!
Here, at the Museum of Appalachia, residents celebrate the holiday by launching gunpowder-filled anvils into the sky. Anvils are large blocks of metal (the one used in this tradition is 200 pounds!) used by blacksmiths as a flat top work surface. “Anvil shooting” was once a common way for pioneers to celebrate special occasions, and this tradition lives on at the living history farm-village. In addition to this fiery celebration, spectators can enjoy bluegrass music, old-fashioned games, demonstrations from blacksmiths and a bell-ringing ceremony.
2020 Twist: Why not hold your own historic celebration at home! Gather your family and have a little contest with some old-fashioned games and a prize of some — you guessed it — Chocolate Riot! If you don’t have an anvil hanging around, you could have a (heavy) rock-throwing contest. Grab some pillowcases and have a sack race, or partner up with a family member for a three-legged race.
Catalina Island, California
This picturesque island off the coast of Los Angeles is known for its resorts, ranches and golf courses, but is also home to an annual golf-cart parade in the city of Avalon. Attendees of the parade are also serenaded by the University of Southern California’s Marching Band. Throughout the Fourth of July weekend, the city hosts a Dinghy Parade, a beach barbeque, the Children’s Festival and live music.
2020 Twist: We may not all have golf-carts readily available at home, but why not try having a parade of your own? Grab those bicycles, tricycles and wagons and go out in your own homemade floats!
Bar Harbor, Maine
Known as the gateway to Acadia National Park, and located in the state famous for its lobsters; it is to no surprise that Bar Harbor celebrates the Fourth of July with lobster races. This tradition began in 1978 as a fundraiser for the local YMCA and allows participants to place their bets on a contender of their choice. They can then watch as the lobsters race to the finish line through a tank. Festivities begin with an outdoor blueberry pancake breakfast and also include a seafood festival, a parade through the town that is completely covered in red, white and blue. The holiday then ends with evening fireworks over Frenchman Bay.
2020 Twist: Instead of lobster races, how about ant races? Find some crawling creatures (before they get on your picnic food) and easily set up a “race course” using crumbs to entice the critters to the finish line. An alternative could be a pet race with your loyal, furry friends.
James Island, South Carolina
Located on the Atlantic coast, next to the bustling city of Charleston, the residents of James Island celebrate by taking their boats out into the harbor at sundown to watch the fireworks that come from the local baseball stadium. This island town of 12,000 often gathers with friends and families after the dazzling display to roast some marshmallows and make s'mores over a bonfire.
2020 Twist: While James Island may not be able to host its annual fireworks display this year, they (and you) can still end the day with backyard bonfires and s’mores. How about making them with Chocolate Riot’s THINS or other craft chocolate? This would elevate the s’mores and keep the focus on all that there is to celebrate this year, rather than what is missing from the celebration.
We here at Chocolate Riot wish you and your family a happy and safe Independence Day. Whatever you do to celebrate this upcoming Fourth of July, please do so safely!