Top 10 Ways to Celebrate the 4th of July

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(Anne McCready/DVIDS)

Independence Day is one of those holidays it’s impossible not to enjoy. From the little kids dressed in red-white-and-blue rompers to the adults sporting their Uncle Sam hats, Independence Day is an all-American party.

But for military families, it’s an even bigger celebration. Maybe it’s because we personally know the cost of the freedom we’re celebrating. Whatever the reason, we know how to live up our independence on the 4th of July.

So we asked military spouses their favorite ways are to celebrate. Here are their answers.

1. Attend a fireworks display -- especially if you have to wear a winter coat. Why is it that watching fireworks explode seems so incredibly American and patriotic? Whatever the reason, this is a must-do wherever you are stationed. It’s also the perfect chance to get out into the community and experience at its finest the place you’re calling home.

Live in the D.C. area? You have to hit the National Mall. Stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.? The small town of Steilacoom outside North Fort’s back gate has a street dancing party before their gorgeous firework display set off over the Puget Sound. And in Monterey, Calif. you may just have to wear a winter coat while watching the display over the bay. All of those are amazing experiences that you don’t want to miss.

2. Blow up your own fireworks. Our Facebook fans told us they love to set off their own backyard displays. That makes sense to me. My service member gets a crazy, wicked gleam in his eye at the thought of being allowed to blow stuff up. America! KABOOM!

3. Decorate the neighborhood -- with chalk. Kids love sidewalk chalk and parents love the easy cleanup. Grab some chalk and sit back and watch hours of fun.

4. Gather the neighborhood kids, give them patriotic decorations and demand (ask nicely) for a parade. Can you imagine the cuteness now? And you don’t even need to leave home. Bump this up a bit and play a John Philip Sousa march to accompany them.

5. Get physical. Heather always runs a 5k race on Independence Day. We think that sounds fabulous. But maybe you’re not the running kind. Get the family outside instead for your new afternoon tradition. Whether that becomes a game of volleyball, some frisbee, throwing around the football or going on a bike ride around the neighborhood. After all, you gotta do something to work off that pie.

6. Host a BBQ (and don’t forget the pie!). Several spouses said grilling out is their favorite way to enjoy the 4th. But we really liked Ashley’s suggestion of gathering friends who can’t get home to be with family.

7. Hit up a small-town parade. When not one of our spouses suggested attending a parade as a way to celebrate, I asked why. “800 degrees outside -- it smothers the parade enthusiasm,” Nicole explained. But not everywhere is 800 degrees on the 4th. I grew up on the coast of California attending parades that were so chilly we wore hoodies and jeans. Nothing like a good Northern California fog bank to your 4th started off on the right foot!

8. Watch a patriotic movie. Nicole’s family watches Yankee Doodle Dandy together. Abigail watches Independence Day every single year. Jacey said Gone With the Wind would be a great choice. Regardless of the movie you pick, a little family time inside is a great way to gear up for fireworks to come or enjoy a rainy 4th.

9. Sing patriotic songs on your porch. The spouses of Fort Campbell are a musical bunch. They said a great way to spend part of your 4th is having a sing-along of patriotic music. And boy, there a lot of songs to choose from. Start with “Yankee Doodle,” and make sure you include “Oh Beautiful.”

10. Flag it up. We know where the flag doesn’t belong. But we also know where it does belong. So stock up on your bunting, buy piles of those cute little flags you wave at parades and unfurl the big one that hangs by your door. Display it proudly!

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