I know! Fourth of July has passed and there were celebrations that happened here and there. Citizens had the chance to be with families and observe Independence Day. I am personally proud of my countrymen that even though it’s been 242 years since Independence was first acquired, the Fourth of July is one of America’s most cherished holidays. Who wouldn’t? I mean, with several parties and programs planned for that day, the feeling is overwhelming!
There were fun events prepared in every city of Colorado and Loveland would not be left behind. From morning ‘til night, there were sure fun and memories collected – food, fun, fireworks, and music by the Loveland Concert Band.
There was fundraising conducted in the form of a race – a fun run, a pool party as well as picnic-style menu and kids’ activities. The celebration is for everyone! Really cool, right?
And while the celebration was successful, let’s take a look at some cool facts that you might not know yet about this festive celebration. I’ve collated several “artifacts” that tells some truths about our Independence Day. Ready?
- THE DECLARATION WASN’T SIGNED ON JULY 4 (OR IN JULY AT ALL)
It is also often believed that when the vote was made official, everyone signed it on that fateful day, a moment that’s often portrayed in popular paintings. However, it took an entire month to get all 56 delegates together to put their “John Hancock” on the document. In fact, the only person to sign the document on July 4th was also its first signer: John Hancock.
The Declaration of Independence was not actually signed until August 2, 1776. But as History.com explains, because the document bears the date of July 4, that’s the date people remembered as little as a year later when the holiday was first celebrated.
- John Adams thought ‘the Second of July’ would become Independence Day
On July 3, 1776, John Adams, who went on to become our second president, wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail, to tell her how excited he was that Congress had voted in favor of independence. “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America,” he declared. Adams so firmly believed that July 2 was the correct day on which to celebrate American independence that he refused to appear at July 4th events as a matter of principle.
- THREE PRESIDENTS HAVE DIED, AND ONE WAS BORN, ON THE FOURTH
You probably know that both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826—50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was adopted. They’re not the only presidents to have died on the Fourth, though; James Monroe—the nation’s fifth president—died just a few years later on July 4, 1831.
Though the holiday might seem like it has it out for former presidents, there was one future leader born on Independence Day. The country’s 30th Commander-in-Chief, Calvin Coolidge, was born on July 4, 1872.
- The Fourth of July was originally celebrated with a lot of greenery instead of red, white and blue
Fourth of July celebrations these days are filled with fireworks, clothes, and ornaments covered in red, white and blue. Such colors weren’t widely available for decoration in the shadow of the nation’s birth, especially in the heat of battle during the Revolutionary War. The first few Independence Day celebrations used greenery as decorations instead. They also fired artillery used in battles following the completion of the war for the Fourth of July, but the practice dissipated as the cannons fell apart over time and were slowly replaced with fireworks.
The origin of the hot dog itself is less well known. That’s because there are several variations of its birth. For instance, a New York Evening Journal cartoonist claimed at the turn of the 20th century that a vendor at a New York Giants game created the tasty treat on the spot and dubbed them “red hots.” He drew a cartoon of the moment as a dachshund sitting in a long bun and used “hot dog” instead because he couldn’t spell dachshund. Another historian claims that a frankfurter vendor in New Jersey nicknamed his sausages “hot dogs” and earned himself the nickname in the process, causing the name to stick to the food for years to come.
- Hot dog eating contest
Around 150 million, to be more specific—that’s how many hot dogs will be consumed by Americans on the Fourth of July. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, that amount of dogs can stretch from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles more than five times.
In 2016, 70 of those dogs were scarfed down by Joey Chestnut, who won the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition for the ninth time. He is the reigning champ, Joey Chestnut, holds the world record for the most hot dogs eaten (73!), which Nathan’s says is equal to 16 pounds, 12,000 calories, four Thanksgiving dinners, or 42 billiard balls.
- Apple pie wasn’t created in America
The phrase “as American as apple pie” has made the dessert treat a staple of any patriotic holiday or celebration. The truth is that apple pie had its roots embedded in other cultures long before America came along and joined the world. All but one breed of apples aren’t indigenous to American soil and came to the States by way of early European settlers who brought the fruit and the original pie recipe with them.
- Several different chefs claimed to have invented the hamburger
The hamburger, however, is truly an American food from its early recipes to the name itself, but there are many stories that all claim to have invented this tasty July 4th staple. Louis Lassen of New Haven, CT, earned the honor of serving the first ground beef sandwich on white bread after a customer needed a quick and filling hot lunch. Charles Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin also earned the honor of being the first to serve the hamburger at a local fair after trying to make his trademark meatballs easier to eat and carry around the fairgrounds. These are just two of a number of national legends trying to take credit for the first burger.
- EATING SALMON ON THE FOURTH IS A TRADITION IN NEW ENGLAND
The tradition of eating salmon on the Fourth of July began in New England as kind of a coincidence. It just so happened that during the middle of the summer, salmon was in abundance in rivers throughout the region, so it was a common sight on tables at the time. It eventually got lumped into the Fourth and has stayed that way ever since, even with the decline of Atlantic salmon.
To serve salmon the traditional New England way, you’ll have to pair it with some green peas. And if you’re really striving for 18th-century authenticity, enjoy the whole meal with some turtle soup, like John and Abigail Adams supposedly did on the first Fourth of July. (You can still be a patriot without the soup, though.)
- THE FIRST CELEBRATIONS WEREN’T MUCH DIFFERENT THAN TODAY’S
After years of pent-up frustration, the colonies let loose upon hearing the words of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Military personnel and civilians in the Bowling Green section of Manhattan tore down a statue of King George III and later melted it into bullets; the King’s coat of arms was used as kindling for a bonfire in Philadelphia; and in Savannah, Georgia, the citizens burnt the King in effigy and held a mock funeral for their royal foe.
Independence Day celebrations began to look a bit more familiar the following year, as the July 18, 1777 issue of the Virginia Gazette describes the July 4 celebration in Philadelphia:
“The evening was closed with the ringing of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks, which began and concluded with thirteen rockets on the commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated. Everything was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal.”
There were even ships decked out in patriotic colors lining harbors and streamers littering city streets. Once you get past the mock funerals and rioting of 1776, modern Independence Day celebrations have stuck pretty close to the traditions started in 1777.
- MASSACHUSETTS WAS THE FIRST STATE TO RECOGNIZE THE HOLIDAY
Massachusetts recognized the Fourth of July as an official holiday on July 3, 1781, making it the first state to do so. It wasn’t until June 28, 1870 that Congress decided to start designating federal holidays [PDF], with the first four being New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. This decreed that those days were holidays for federal employees.
- THE OLDEST ANNUAL FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION IS HELD IN BRISTOL, RHODE ISLAND
Eighty-five years before the Fourth of July was even recognized as a federal holiday, one tradition began that continues to this day. Billed as “America’s Oldest Fourth of July Celebration,” the town of Bristol, Rhode Island, has been doing Independence Day right since 1785.
The festivities began just two years after the Revolutionary War ended, and 2017 will be its 232nd entry. Over the years the whole thing has expanded well beyond July 4; the town of 23,000 residents now begins to celebrate the United States on Flag Day, June 14, all the way through to the 2.5-mile July 4 parade. What began as a “patriotic exercise”—meaning church services—has morphed into a cavalcade of parades, live music, food, and other activities.
- AND THE SHORTEST PARADE IS IN APTOS, CALIFORNIA
From the oldest to the shortest, the Fourth of July parade in Aptos, California, is just a hair over half a mile long. Taking up two city blocks, and measuring just .6 miles, this brief bit of patriotism features antique cars, decorated trucks, and plenty of walkers. Afterward, there’s a Party in the Park, where folks can enjoy live music, food, and games.
- THERE ARE AROUND 15,000 INDEPENDENCE DAY FIREWORKS CELEBRATIONS EVERY YEAR
According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, around 15,000 fireworks displays will take place for the Fourth of July holiday (even if some aren’t exactly on July 4). Though pricing varies, most small towns spend anywhere from $8000-$15,000 for a fireworks display, with larger cities going into the millions, like the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular at around $2.5 million.
- The modern flag was designed by a high school student as part of a class project
The American flag has gone through many alterations as the regions grew and even reached beyond its borders. The modern “50-star flag,” however, has an interesting story behind its creation. High school student Robert G. Heft of Lancaster, Ohio was assigned to create a new “national banner” for America that would recognize the statehood of Alaska and Hawaii. Heft simply added two extra stars to the flag to give it an even 50 and stitched his own design. His teacher only gave him a “B-minus” for his effort, so he sent his project to President Dwight D. Eisenhower for consideration and a change of grade. Eisenhower chose his design personally and the new flag was officially adopted in 1960. His teacher then gave him an “A” instead.
- Slow on the Uptake
It took 15 years for people to officially start calling July 4th Independence Day (1791), another 80 for Congress to make it an unpaid holiday (1870), and yet another 68 (1938) for the 4th to be officially recognized as a paid holiday vacation. It wasn’t until 1992 that Lee Greenwood plagued the holiday with the hit country song, “God Bless the U.S.A.”
The tradition of grilling out didn’t actually get going in earnest until the early 1800s, but Virginia colonists had been barbecuing large animals over a pit for years by then in a tradition they imported, apparently, from the West Indies, according to Slate. The practice is said to have spread as political leaders began staging rallies to mark Independence Day and drew crowds by staging massive barbecues featuring whole pigs and oxen.
- About Jefferson being the author…
Thomas Jefferson is known as the author of the Declaration of Independence, but while he was the man officially responsible for drafting a formal statement of why the 13 colonies should break from Britain, the document was written by a five-man committee made up of Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. According to History.com, Jefferson was not recognized as its principal author until the 1790s.
- “Pursuit of Happiness”
Arguably the most famous line in the Declaration of Independence is the second sentence of the preamble, which begins, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But as originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the pursuit was not of happiness, but of “Property.” As the story goes, Benjamin Franklin convinced Jefferson to make the change because “property” was too “narrow” a notion.
That’s it! Quite a good number, right? The next time you’ll be celebrating Fourth of July, you would not keep on asking why there were a lot of barbecues, hot dogs and fireworks, plus, you get to answer those curious little minds in the family. Which among those Fun facts do you know and which are not? We’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions! J
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