Fireworks photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

Celebrating Freedom & Fireworks!

Fourth of July fireworks and foodie traditions are the best!

I love fireworks on the 4th of July. I don’t love setting them off myself or even having sparklers or Roman candles for the kids. But I LOVE watching them burst in the sky and being close enough to feel the booms and crackles as they explode.

Fireworks are my favorite.

Show Me Some Sparkle!

In recent years, sadly, it’s been hit or miss with our family and fireworks. One year, we set up our chairs just as the grand finale finished. The show had started early because bad weather was expected. Something we had no way of knowing that until we were too late!

In 2019, we celebrated Independence Day in Ireland. (Not surprisingly, the Irish are happy to celebrate anyone’s freedom from England’s rule!) We invited our whole block over and served burger sliders, hotdogs, watermelon, and a patriotic cake with strawberries and blueberries.

Keep it simple! Store-bought sponge cake, whipped cream, strawberries, and blueberries make an easy dessert.

For the hot dogs, we had to head over to the Polish shop. They were individually wrapped (and not easy to unwrap) and split and twisted when we cooked them. At least the potatoes for the potato salad were easily sourced. ?

The watermelon that year cost around 10€ ($13) and was less than fresh having come all the way from Greece. It was so mushy on the inside that only one-third was salvageable as cubes. The rest I ended up straining and serving as a drink (something I first tasted on a mission trip to Chihuahua, Mexico, 20-something years ago.) I also served iced tea, an oddity in Ireland, as well as fresh-squeezed lemonade which I learned cannot be served from one of those pretty glass dispensers. (Lemon pulp clogged up the spigot and we had to scoop it out with a ladle.)

I was shocked to find a party story in Ireland that had American flag napkins!

Even with the curly cue hot dogs, drink mishaps, and mushy watermelon, our Irish celebration was definitely fun. We heard story after story from our new friends and shared a few of our own.

But, alas, no fireworks.

And last year, of course, like everything else, fireworks across the country got Covid-canceled.

Will Stop for Fireworks

You can bet if I’m roaming somewhere over the 4th, I’ll stop on the side of the highway if there’s a fireworks show going on. And if the next town has another show, I’ll stop for that one too (to my family’s dismay).

My favorite 4th of July experience is a toss-up between two memorable years. The first was a show over the lake when I was a camper at Camp Kachina and we all sighed—oooh, ahhhhh, ohhhh—as each explosion lit up the sky. I only remember being at camp over the 4th one year, but it certainly felt special.

The second was my first 4th of July in Pensacola, Florida, in 2001. We set up lawn chairs so we could watch the show over the bay. The people planning the event had their act together and timed the music to go with the display. Magical. I still remember thinking that every fireworks show should be just like that.  

Keep the food simple. It’s all about the fireworks!

From corn on the cob to grilled burgers and hot dogs, to perfectly ripe (not mushy!) watermelon, the best thing about food on the 4th of July is that it’s simple. Bring what you have to the family gathering or neighborhood potluck, serve some Blue Bell, and call it good! Because it is.

No need to get fancy or complicated. The whole point of this celebration is hanging out with the people you love—and watching fireworks.

4th of July Menu

My favorite foods for 4th of July are simple and can be cooked and served outside so we can keep the house cool! What’s on your menu this 4th of July?

  • Burgers with all the fixin’s
  • Hotdogs (grilled is the only way to eat a hotdog IMO)
  • Watermelon (Seeded or Seedless? What’s your preference?)
  • Grilled Corn on the Cob
  • Baked Potato Salad
  • Iced Tea
  • Lemonade
  • Blue Bell Ice Cream for dessert!

What is  your favorite 4th of July memory or tradition? I’d love to hear about it!