Last year as we drove home from the annual 4th of July Parade in my parents’ neighborhood, my husband brought it to my attention that not everyone has the tradition of decorating bikes for the 4th of July. In fact, he said he had never heard of it before he met me. And he lived all over the United States (and the world) when he was growing up. I was shocked. I was under the impression that this was something everyone in America did, right along with fireworks and cookouts. Evidently not though. So I wanted to share this tradition, one of my favorites of the year, with you in case it might be new to you too so that you can try it!
I remember decorating my bike almost every year when I was little, whether or not we had a neighborhood parade. Actually, we only had a parade on our street once, and it was very short because it started to rain. But it was still super fun. My mom even made me an Uncle Sam hat and vest to wear! When I was nine we moved, and our new neighborhood had a real parade each year complete with a fire truck and a bike decorating contest. I was thrilled. When I was too old to be in the parade myself, I couldn’t completely let go of participating in the tradition and decorated signs showing where to park the bikes for the decorating contest. Now that the neighborhood kids have all grown up, we bring our own kids back for the 4th of July Parade: The Next Generation.
One thing that makes this tradition so great is that it isn’t hard at all. We just go to Party City and buy a bunch of random patriotic decorations that could be attached to a bike somehow (flags, streamers, crepe paper, ribbons, bows, tinsel, pinwheels, balloons, stars, etc.) and put them all over the bike or wagon. We even keep the decorations in a box and reuse them year after year.
4th of July Bike
Just make sure that the vehicle can still move as it should. It’s great fun!
Granted, this may not be the ideal time to introduce this tradition… I’m writing this while shivering in a sweatshirt on a very rainy 3rd of July, and we decided to go ahead and have our cookout and mini bike parade with our neighbors last night on the 2nd of July since the 4th looks like a total washout this year. However, if it happens to be sunny where you are or if you don’t mind soggy, dripping crepe paper then go for it! Decorate away! Happy 4th of July!
Going to buy fireworks with my dad and watching him set them off in our driveway has always been one of my favorite 4th of July traditions. It’s fun, and it makes me feel especially patriotic since our very own ancestor John Adams was the one who decreed that the 4th of July should be celebrated with fireworks.
I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival . . . it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade . . . bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore. – John Adams
Our little fireworks tradition got even better when my husband joined our family and unintentionally added a new comical dimension to our yearly fireworks display: watching him and my dad walk on eggshells to politely share the fireworks lighting privileges with each other even though each guy clearly wants to light all of them himself.
It’s been several years though since we’ve had fireworks due to either droughts and firework bans, being rained out, or having a baby/toddler who would also like to share in the fireworks lighting duties but certainly cannot be trusted near flames and sparks. So while we look forward to another fireworks show in our driveway one day in the future, for now we have found nonflammable entertainment for after out 4th of July cookout.
One of my most favorite 4th of July activities is watching 1776, a musical about our very own cousin John and his efforts to create our new nation long ago. We’ve actually watched this each year for years, usually while waiting for it to get dark enough for fireworks. This year we also got some other fun things to play with that might be more exciting for a toddler (although she does really love her show tunes!) including glowing flags and water balloons. May not be explosive fun, but I know we will enjoy it nonetheless. As long as we are together (and get to eat gallons of potato salad), it will be a great celebration I’m sure!
My family always has a big cookout on the evening of the 4th of July – hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, pink lemonade, chips, baked beans, deviled eggs, homemade ice cream… Yum!!! We really stuff ourselves! It’s enough food to make you want to save room for it all the whole day leading up to the dinner. So as an attempt to eliminate a meal before the cookout, we started having a waffle brunch on the 4th of July, and it is becoming a tradition we look forward to almost as much as the cookout.
4th of July Waffles
Our menu includes waffles, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, and whipped cream. That’s it!
More 4th of July Waffles
The berries and cream make it a pretty red, white, and blue meal that is delicious and helps us get through the day without spoiling our appetites so that we can pig out to our hearts’ content at our evening cookout – as is patriotic and American! Happy 4th of July!
Star Spangled Waffles
The 4th of July is just around the corner! Time to start planning your 4th of July picnic. Firecracker Candy Rolls make a cute addition for your picnic table.
4th of July Table with Firecracker Candy Rolls
They are so easy to make! First get some sort of candy in a roll: Rolos, Life Savers, Mentos, etc. Then cut some string and ribbons to look like a fuze and sparks. Attach them to one end of the candy roll with a glue dot. Cover the candy roll with red, white, or blue paper and then decorate them with stars, stickers, or anything patriotic.
Firecracker Candy Roll
This is a fun craft activity for both kids and adults, and the little firecrackers will make your 4th of July table extra festive!