Independence Day celebrations start this week, so plan your July 4 festivities early

And, buckle up for record traffic on the nation’s highways

THURSDAY, JULY 4: Start planning your Independence Day festivities, now, because many communities nationwide are hosting events as early as this week! Among the earliest in the nation is Detroit’s enormous fireworks show along the Detroit River on Monday, June 24, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Plus, we already know that many highways will be jammed around July 4. The AAA annual travel forecast reports: “AAA projects 70.9 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the Independence Day holiday travel period*. For the first time, AAA looked at the entire July 4th week, plus the Saturday before and the Sunday after the holiday. This year’s projected number of travelers for that time period is a 5% increase compared to 2023 and an 8% increase over 2019.”

And check any airline plans you’re making, too! Some major airports nationwide are urging travelers to show up early for flights on and around July 4 this year, because of the anticipated crowds.

MACY’S CELEBRATES JULY 4 ON NBC and Peacock: Just as Macy’s has branded Thanksgiving as an occasion for a colorful nationwide celebration, Macy’s also is branding July 4. This year, the 48th annual Macy’s 4th of July fireworks display will take place over the Hudson River. That’s a move that has New Jersey residents cheering, reports NBCNewYork: “For the first time in more than a decade, the annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks spectacle will be held on the Hudson River—giving New Jerseyans a front-row seat to the fireworks extravaganza that lights up the iconic New York City skyline. … New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy welcomed the news expressing his excitement to the location change from the East River to the Hudson River.”

Click on this thumbnail-sized copy of the Declaration to see it enlarged so you can read the text and the signers’ names.

THE DECLARATION: A HISTORY

With the fledgling battles of the Revolutionary War in April 1775, few colonists expected complete independence from Great Britain. Within a year, however, hostilities toward Great Britain were building and the desire for independence was growing, too. Thomas Paine’s 1776 pamphlet, “Common Sense,” fueled the unifying aspiration for independence.

In June 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a five-person committee to draft a formal statement that would vindicate the break with Great Britain: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston. Jefferson, considered the most articulate writer in the group, crafted the original draft. A total of 86 changes were made to the draft before its final adoption on July 4 by the Second Continental Congress. On July 5, 1776, official copies of the Declaration of Independence were distributed. (Learn more from History.com.)

One year following, in 1777, Philadelphia marked the Fourth of July with an official dinner, toasts, 13-gun salutes, music, parades, prayers and speeches. As the new nation faced challenges, celebrations fell out of favor during ensuing decades. It wasn’t until after the War of 1812 that printed copies of the Declaration of Independence again were widely circulated, and festivities marked America’s Independence Day. Congress declared July 4 a national holiday in 1870.

‘A CAPITOL FOURTH’ from D.C.

A salute of one gun for each U.S. states is fired on July 4 at noon by any capable military base, and in the evening, A Capitol Fourth—a free concert broadcast live by PBS, NPR and the American Forces Network—takes place on the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C. For facts about the Declaration and more, visit USA.gov.

Who’s appearing this year? The band Chicago, Boyz II Men, Belinda Carlisle, Babyface, Renee Fleming—and many more.

Plus, PBS is offering lots of other helpful information, including:

AND MORE JULY 4 RECIPES

Nothing sets the stage for a summer party like the occasion of the Fourth of July! Dig up those red, white and blue decorations and recipes, and invite neighbors and friends over for a birthday bash for the nation.

From the perfect grilled steak to a fresh-fruit patriotic cake, here are some of the great links we’ve found for Independence Day: Martha Stewart, Food Network, Food & Wine, and Real Simple. HGTV offers last-minute snack ideas.

Or, stay indoors with a lineup of patriotic movies—Forbes offers a top-10 list of movies, including “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Johnny Tremain,” “Live Free or Die Hard” and “The Patriot.”

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