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June 16, 2009 10:56 AM   Subscribe

My British step-father has just become a US citizen. Given this, what would be a good way for us to celebrate the 4th of July?

I usually live about a 1000 miles away, but I'm already planning to come home for the 4th of July. And given that it is the holiday about US/British relations, I can't imagine a better way to celebrate his coming over to the rebel's side of things. I want an all-out American extravaganza.

Now, of course, we'll have to celebrate with a feast of hotdogs and apple pie.... But, beyond that, we're all kind of blanking about what quintessentially American stuff we can add into a day's activities. Fireworks are illegal where he lives, so nothing too explosive can be involved.

Have any suggestions? I'm willing to consider anything from the painfully sincere to outright kitschy. Anything that specifically plays on the differences between British culture and American culture is especially appreciated.
posted by Ms. Saint to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Shooting range
posted by vincele at 11:00 AM on June 16, 2009

"God save the Queen." and "My country 'tis of thee" use British and American lyrics to the same music. Sing both at once and see who wins.
posted by sciencegeek at 11:01 AM on June 16, 2009

A funny re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party? Make iced tea out of Earl Grey?

A quiz to test your fellow American guests on British slang? (ie. Jumper vs. sweater)
posted by HeyAllie at 11:03 AM on June 16, 2009

Kate Beaton, of Hark, a Vagrant! (being Canadian) has this to say about the 4th. He might get a chuckle out of itIn a slightly more, you know, actually helpful sort of way, when I think of the 4th, I usually think of grilling and fireworks -- assuming he isn't way out in the country, there should be some sort of municipal fireworks display, and that is one of the archetypal American experiences (at least to me, although I am not a big fan anymore). If something quieter is desired, maybe watching 1776? It's a kitschy musical, but it has a fairly accurate depiction of Hopkins from RI (for what it's worth and as far as I can tell), and it sure is July 4th-y.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:04 AM on June 16, 2009

Make him drink Budweiser.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:07 AM on June 16, 2009

Can you gather enough people for a softball game?
posted by IanMorr at 11:07 AM on June 16, 2009

If you can find one in your area, take him to a baseball game! A great way to celebrate the 4th, and all the major-league stadiums (and many of the minor-league ones) that are hosting games put on fireworks displays.

Regarding food: you don't mention where you are but New England Clambakes and Hawaiian Luaus are popular ways to celebrate the holiday in different parts of the country. Of course, there's barbecue, which is popular everywhere. But while grilling may be an American pastime, it's obviously not strictly American. So, if you go the BBQ route, try including various, unusual regional sauces from American companies, and definitely incorporate hot dogs. :)

Oh, and teach 'im America. It's the same tune as "God Save the Queen". ;-)
posted by zarq at 11:15 AM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Could you still do sparklers and smoke "bombs"? Things like that?

Oh! Read the Declaration of Independence (or the Preamble to the Constitution, or the letter the colonists sent to King George), out loud and with feeling!

Go to/host a neighborhood parade. In the neighborhood where I grew up, the adults would put together a fantastic parade. The kids would all decorate their bikes with red, white, and blue decorations and there was a Best Bike contest (you didn't have to enter if you didn't want to). We would parade through the streets to the neighborhood pool and there would be a big party there (YMMV, depending on whether or not you have a pool/access to a pool). The dads would always have a pretty big fireworks display at the end. It wasn't legal but the police looked the other way, as the dads were really safe about it. It's one of my favorite childhood memories.
posted by cooker girl at 11:19 AM on June 16, 2009

When he arrives at the location for your event, someone should charge away on a horse, screaming that the redcoats are coming.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:19 AM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Maybe a nice edition of the works of Thomas Paine?
posted by motsque at 11:20 AM on June 16, 2009

Fireworks, beer, and red meat. Not necessarily in that order.
posted by notsnot at 11:26 AM on June 16, 2009

Depending on where you are, visit a Revolutionary War battlefield or monument.

Scope out his ancestry to see if he's related to a Revolutionary patriot.
posted by jgirl at 11:28 AM on June 16, 2009

zarq: that's not actually true about all the MLB stadiums having fireworks on the 4th. At least this year, there are only five night games that day (at Cleveland, Texas, Anaheim, Florida, and Colorado). There tend to be more day games than night games on holidays, because people have the day off.

Four of those five (all but Cleveland -- yes, I checked) are having fireworks. Some teams do them on other days -- for example, the Phillies (my hometown team) never do fireworks on the 4th. That being said, a baseball game's a good idea even without the fireworks.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:29 AM on June 16, 2009

Sparklers, absolutely. Preferably while marching around as if you were in a parade (funny hats: Tricorn, Abe Lincoln's stovepipe, Mob/Bonnet, cheesehead, cowboy hat, Statue of Liberty crown, sparkly alien bobble headbands (preferably with little USAs instead of the usual circles)) while singing Yankee Doodle Dandy.
posted by julen at 11:35 AM on June 16, 2009

Response by poster: We'll be in Northern California.

I guess I left that out because there really isn't much "Revolutionary War Spirit" in that area.

Thanks for the suggestions so far!
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:36 AM on June 16, 2009

Twinkie Sushi, Bourbon, and Rocky IV.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 11:37 AM on June 16, 2009

Ya know, there's illegal fireworks in the sense that if too many people call to complain or if the cops are really bored, they'll show up and take them away, or maybe even write a citation, but really nobody gives a shit as long as you're not amateur jackasses trying to put on a professional-style show.

Then there's illegal fireworks as in cops show up pissed and haul you off for a nontrivial misdemeanor.

If CA is like the first and you mean the part of northern CA that's not perpetually bone-dry tinder, I'd honestly suggest just getting some mildly illegal fireworks and making some noise. These will be pretty uniformly too small to blow up fruit larger than a cherry. In this case, the mild illegality is part of the fun and makes it even more American.

But if CA is like the second, then yeah, avoid.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:53 AM on June 16, 2009

State-approved fireworks in California.

California Fireworks Laws

That said... since you're in Northern California, please, please be careful.
posted by zarq at 12:02 PM on June 16, 2009

House boat with family and friends where there's the beer, bbq, and fireworks in that order if you have that sort of thing in your area. it's a lot of fun and since the 4th is on a saturday you'd be better off turning it into at least a 4 day weekend. The above along with water, fishing, and music is a lot of fun.
posted by dmc6127 at 3:49 PM on June 16, 2009

Born and raised in NorCal, and yeah - only you can prevent forest fires. Almost anywhere in NorCal in the middle of summer is, for all intents and purposes, a tinderbox. Unless you're in the middle of a large, completely paved suburb, fireworks are pretty much a terrible idea. Maybe some sparklers, sure, but have a bucket of water on standby (and put the dead sparklers in it, those f-ers stay hot for a long-ass time, as my bare foot learned once when I was younger).

I too would recommend something involving water. If you post here or me-mail me where abouts in NorCal you are, I can make more specific recommendations (there's lots of state park options, historical sites (most involving mining), cool rivers/waterfalls, great lakes, etc.).
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:22 AM on June 18, 2009

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