Freedom! As a kid, celebrating July the Fourth meant fireworks, fun and games. The holiday started with a trip to the local firework stand where I purchased as many goods as allowed. Afterwards came the big event--the July Fourth celebration at the town's park. The event took place where the baseball and football fields sat east of the elementary school. In front of the baseball field and to the north of the stadium was a detached kindergarten building with a park behind it. The grassy area was shaded by large, mature trees and when not being used for public events the park hosted horseshoe players and families of picnickers .
A favorite of July the Fourth celebrators was a donkey softball game with teams made up of families and friends. Donkeys are so unpredictable, and scoring was difficult. Some stopped dead in their tracks as riders sailed over their heads or slipped off their backs. Other times, donkeys ran one direction while being urged otherwise. Getting donkeys to round bases was no easy feat. If you have never been to a donkey softball game, you don't know what you've missed!
There was an egg toss with two-person teams carefully chosen--some participants were more in demand than others based on prior years performances. This was largely attended since throwers were sure to come away with splattered eggs on their hands and faces.
When I was young, I scoured dirt and two-lane roads weeks in advance to find a tortoise for the turtle race. It was a challenge to keep a turtle around the homestead for more than a week, so on many July the Fourths I had several
Perhaps one of the best things about July the Fourth was homemade ice-cream. Every family seemed to have an ice cream maker--rectangular steel containers that went inside wooden buckets, later on plastic holders. Ice and rock salt was layered in between the steel containers and buckets. Once tops were placed on, people turned crank handles which rotated the buckets. In later years, crank models were discarded in favor of electric motors, which rotated steel containers when plugged into electrical outlets. People brought flavors of all kinds--banana, chocolate, peach, vanilla. It was free as long as your family brought a bucket of icre cream. Yum! I wish I had a cupful of each flavor right now...
Finally, there was time between park events and the night's firework's display for sandwiches at home. A few personal fireworks were set off before the mad dash to the football field at dusk. Aluminum stands were filled with families and young children. But, on a hill that overlooked the stadium sat carloads of teenagers and young adults; some drinking, some not, and late night parties were planned around ponds in pastures. Then, night signaled the first bang and "ewww" and "ahhhh" echoed across the town as colorful lights glowed in the dark sky.
July the Fourth is about freedom. Whether attending a celebration, partying with families and friends, or relaxing alone at home, it's your choice...it's all about freedom.
Have a safe and wonderful Fourth of July!
Fifteen July the Fourth Coloring Sheets for Young Learners
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