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June 25, 2013 > Fourth of July

Fourth of July

By Mauricio Segura
Photos By Don Jedlovec

Everyone knows that the Fourth of July is Independence Day, the day that our country was born by the signing of an official document declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. But lesser known facts of our special day might surprise you and make great conversation while you're waiting for burgers and hot dogs to grill.

Since the initial signing, celebrations have been held with parades, family gatherings, barbecues, and fireworks. The oldest continuous annual celebration has been held since 1785 in Bristol, Rhode Island. The White House didn't begin formal celebrations until 1801, and even then it took another 140 years (1801-1941) to finally declare the Fourth of July as a national holiday.

There is an odd and eerie connection with the Fourth of July and four of our country's presidents. Two signers of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, bitter enemies during their active political lives and best friends in retirement, were both looking forward to the 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, both became deathly ill a few months before and found themselves on deathbeds as the date closed in. They held on as long as possible, but finally died within hours of each other on the anniversary date. If the death of two presidents on the Fourth of July isn't odd enough, add another one to the mix; James Monroe died on the same date just five years later in 1831. On the other hand, President Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872.

Food is a staple of Independence Day celebrations and Americans are proficient at consuming grilled goodies. It is estimated that 74 million Americans barbecue on that date every year. We eat around 150 million hot dogs, 100 million burgers, 700 million pounds of chicken, 290 million cans of soda and beer, and spend $11 million on charcoal and Popsicles. Fireworks also have been a tradition; the U.S. imports approximately $232.3 million of fireworks from China every year, used in a single day.

There are two other countries that celebrate their own Independence Day on the Fourth of July: Rwanda and the Philippines, that ironically, declared independence in 1848 from the United States.

The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence did not all sign at the same time, nor did they sign on July 4, 1776. The official event occurred on August 2, 1776, when 50 men signed it. So technically, we've been celebrating on the wrong date for 237 years! The names of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were withheld from the public for more than six months to protect them. If independence had not been achieved, the treasonable act of the signers would have, by law, resulted in their deaths. John Hancock was the first and only person to sign on July 4th, while Thomas McKean was the last to sign in January, 1777.

In the Greater Tri-City Area, a myriad of activities are scheduled to celebrate the July 4th holiday. No matter how you celebrate, remember to stay safe, be responsible, and enjoy the day!

Fremont's annual FOURTH OF JULY PARADE draws thousands of spectators and will include over 70 entries of floats, specialty units, marching musical units, and guest celebrities. Emmy-winning reporter Lyanne Melindez from KGO ABC News 7 serves as this year's Grand Marshal with former Fremont Chief of Police Craig Steckler as Honorary Grand Marshal. The parade will start at 10 a.m. sharp and follow a one-mile route starting at State Street and Capitol Avenue, turning right onto Paseo Padre Parkway, right onto Walnut Avenue, and right onto Liberty Street, ending on Beacon Avenue at the corner of State Street.

Fremont 4th of July Parade
Thursday, July 4
10 a.m. - 12 noon
Beginning at State Street and Capitol Ave., Fremont

OLD FASHIONED CELEBRATION at Ardenwood Historic Farm with games, contests, and races, patriotic music, magic show, train rides, and Patterson House tours.

Old Fashioned Independence Day
Thursday, July 4
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(510) 544-2797
Admission: $8 adults, $6 seniors, $5 kids (4 -17)


Celebrate INDEPENDENCE DAY AT MEEK PARK. The free family-friendly event includes games and crafts, live music from the Banjo Racketeers, face painting, a park-wide History Hunt, sack races and tug-of-war. Tour Meek Mansion, which includes actors' portrayals of members of the Meek household. Bring your own family picnic or purchase hot dogs and other refreshments onsite.

Old-Fashioned Fourth of July at Meek Park
Thursday, July 4
11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Meek Mansion/Park
17365 Boston Rd., Hayward
(510) 581-0223
Free; mansion tours $5 per person


The Milpitas Sports Center hosts their annual holiday bash with a POOL PARTY, CONCERT AND FIREWORKS SHOW. Gates for the concert and fireworks show open at 6 p.m. and attendees can rock out with band Retromaniax until fireworks light up the sky at 9:15 p.m. No alcohol, glass bottles/containers, tents, tables, umbrellas, strollers or animals are allowed. Food will be available for purchase at both events.

Tickets can be bought in advance at the Milpitas Community Center and Sports Center during regular business hours until July 3. Tickets may also be purchased on the day of the event at the pool party (cash only).

Waving the Red, White & Blue Pool Party
Thursday, July 4
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Admission: $2

Red, White & Boom! Concert and Fireworks Show
Thursday, July 4
7 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Milpitas Sports Center
1325 E. Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas
(408) 586-3210
Admission: $3 two years and up, free for one year and younger


Start off the holiday with a satisfied stomach at the annual 4th of July Pancake Breakfast, and support the Alameda County Firefighters-Local55 Charity Fund, which funds community projects and organizations.

4th of July Pancake Breakfast
Thursday, July 4
8 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Alameda County Fire Station #27
39039 Cherry St., Newark
(510) 618-3490
Cost: $5

"Safe and sane fireworks" can only be bought and used in Newark and Union City; use in all other cities of the Greater Tri-City area is illegal.

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