If you’re anything like me, you’re tired of the same old Fourth of July celebrations: drinking cold, American brewskies, hearing your neighbor’s boyfriend belt out Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to Be an American” for the fifteenth time in a row, getting attacked by mosquitoes, and finding watermelon juice stuck to your elbows when you climb into bed. It seems that fireworks have lost a little of their spark.
That’s why I’m dreaming of small town Americana this Fourth of July; places with patriotism stamped into their DNA.
Thirty places in the United States—from cities to villages—have “liberty” in their name. “Eagle” flies into the name of thirty-two locales, and eleven spots have names that include “independence.”
I did some digging to find out what our nation’s most patriotic-sounding towns have planned for the fourth—and beyond. If you’re looking for a different way to celebrate your patriotism this 4th of July, you may want to consider a road trip to one of these star-spangled American retreats.
Eagle Pass, Texas
Photo source: Stephen Witherden on flickr (cc)
Just like the famous Jerry Maguire quote, “You had me at hello,” Eagle Pass had me at their slogan, “Where yee-haw meets olé.” Nestled between San Antonio and Mexico and boasting two international bridges, Eagle Pass is the most populous of the Eagle-named towns, with nearly 25,000 residents. This fourth, they’ll have a parade, a “Stars and Stripes Jam” with several bands, and at 10 p.m., the fireworks will fly.
It doesn’t get more America than Plymouth. The Mayflower—and its Pilgrim passengers—landed there almost 400 years ago, and it’s older than any town in America except Jamestown, Virginia. Although the population is under 60,000, Plymouth takes its July Fourth celebration seriously. In addition to an annual parade and evening fireworks, you won’t want to miss the recreation of the original Plymouth Colony, where you can find out how the first Pilgrims and the native Wampanoag Indians lived in the 17th century. You can also climb aboard the Mayflower II, a reproduction of the original ship.
This town’s Web site makes a strong sell. It touts its “rugged frontier trails bound for fortune in the West” and its “opulent Victorian mansions built for 19th century entrepreneurs.” It brags that it is the home of “infamous outlaws” and “hometown hero Harry S. Truman.” This July Fourth, Independence—with just over 100,000 residents—will play host to the Spirit of Independence Concert Band (which—surprise—plays patriotic music). The day ends with a fireworks display at the Mormon Visitor’s Center.
The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas
The Alamo, also known as the “cradle of Texas liberty,” is ready to show off its colors this Fourth of July. Members of the Alamo Education Department will dress in 1840s clothing and portray citizens of the Republic of Texas, while costumed interpreters read the Declaration of Independence at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you have extra time to wander around San Antonio, make sure you don’t miss Willie Nelson’s Family Picnic at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, where Merle Haggard, Pat Green, David Allan Coe, and others will take the stage.
With nearly 30,000 residents, Liberty is the biggest of the “liberty” towns. The city was founded in 1822 and aims to be “progressive both economically and culturally.” This Fourth of July, Liberty will offer air slides, moonwalks, face painting, balloon art, a caricaturist, and a “spectacular” fireworks display.
Cities named Freedom are apparently so confident in their patriotism that they don’t need to throw a big party on the Fourth of July. Rather, they have their themed soirees at different times of the year so they won’t be overshadowed. Freedom, Oklahoma has an annual rodeo—billed as “the biggest open rodeo in the West”—over the third weekend of August each year. Festivities include girl’s barrel racing, wild bull riding, a chuck wagon-style dinner, and a dance. Yeehaw! After this year’s celebration in Freedom, you won’t get the post-fourth blues because you can look forward to this next slice of America in August.
Freedom, New Hampshire
Just like Freedom, Oklahoma, Freedom, New Hampshire doesn’t mess around with July Fourth. When I called city hall, the lady who answered the phone said, “No, we don’t do anything for the Fourth. We have Old Home Week.” Sure enough, Old Home Week is Freedom’s weeklong August response to the rest of the country’s July Fourth shenanigans. You can enjoy everything from hot air balloon rides to a magician/ventriloquist, to family bingo and an ice cream social. Every day is packed with activities, whether it’s a road race or lemonade on the lawn.
So pack the kids into the car and leave the potato salad and sparklers behind. Because no matter which of these charming American getaways you choose, you can bet there will be plenty of both waiting for you when you get there.