What are you planning for Independence Day? Better start before July 4.

TUESDAY, JULY 4: With “social distancing” all but a memory in most communities, Independence Day festivities are expected to be jammed this year—along with the scent of barbecue, drawing family and friends.

AAA already is projecting an increase in travel, this year, just as we saw on the Memorial Day weekend. So, plan ahead, expect to exercise your patience and—travel safely!

LOVE FIREWORKS? If you and your friends and family love fireworks, start searching the internet for fireworks shows near you—now! That’s because some communities schedule these festivals in late June. Our publishing house is based in Michigan and one state-wide report reports fireworks shows starting as early as June 25 this year. So, look now for a show you might enjoy—and you will find them sprinkled through this week with a majority of fireworks displays still clustered around July 1 through 4.

MACY’S CELEBRATES ON NBC: Just as Macy’s has branded Thanksgiving as an occasion for a colorful nationwide celebration, Macy’s also is branding July 4. The retailer began celebrating July 4 in 1958 for about a million viewers along the Hudson River, as part of the department store’s centennial. This year, the 47th annual Macy’s 4th of July fireworks display takes place over the East River. NBC will air the musical extravaganza—featuring Ashanti, Bebe Rexha, Ja Rule, Jelly Roll, Lainey Wilson and LL Cool J—and also will stream the event on Peacock. (And, keep reading: Below we’ve got details of the other big broadcast from Washington D.C.)

BUT, PLEASE, BEWARE of FIRES! Public safety warnings already are popping up across the U.S. because of especially dry conditions in many parts of the country. We urge you to check out any warnings in your area so holiday fun doesn’t result in a destructive fire.

SHOPPING? Aside from celebrating our nation’s history and our core values of freedom and concern for human rights, this big holiday also has become an occasion for big sales events. Just one example related to outdoor life that’s sparking headlines this year is Recreational Equipment, Inc. (better known as REI), which already has started its July 4 sale on everything from sleeping bags to camping furniture.

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


With the fledgling battles of the Revolutionary War in April 1775, few colonists considered 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 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:


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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