America celebrates 4th of July at four patriotic spots

The places to be this Fourth: Philadelphia, New York City, Gettysburg, and Mt. Rushmore. Photo: 4th of July fireworks over New York City

WASHINGTON, July 4, 2013 — Even though the legal separation of the original 13 colonies happened on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted its approval of a resolution of independence, Americans prefer to celebrate on July 4th, the day that the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed.

So from sea to shining sea, Americans will parade through their towns and cities, set the night sky ablaze with fireworks, head for the nearest fair or carnival, and toss another burger on the barbecue, all in celebration of America’s 237th birthday.

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Here are four of the most patriotic places to celebrate what promises to be a sizzling hot Fourth:

Philadelphia —

Liberty Bell in front of Independence Hall

Is there a better best place in America for a blowout birthday celebration than the birthplace of our country, Philadelphia? If the Founding Fathers could only see how the City of Brotherly Love is about to party hearty to commemorate the Declaration of Independence.

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Philadelphia has already begun its celebration, but on July 4th, it will shut down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for what Philly bills as the Largest Free Concert in the U.S., starting with a day-long party of blocks of delicious food and live entertainment from comedy to music.

The day kicks off with “Good Morning America” broadcasting from Independence Hall. Next comes an old-fashioned Independence Day Parade with floats and marching bands.

And, of course, you are going to want to see the Liberty Bell, visit Independence Hall and hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence and stop by Betsy Ross’ House to hear the ceremonial bell ringing.

The day will conclude with what the city describes as an “incredible fireworks finale” over the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Check out the city’s website for all details.

SEE RELATED: Fourth of July at Mount Rushmore

New York City — There are three big events happening in the Big Apple that are not to be missed:

*The Statue of Liberty reopens after being closed since October 2011 for $30 million worth of renovations. And the steps inside will now be shallower and easier to navigate, a big plus. The only way to get to Lady Liberty is via a wonderful ferry ride ($12 for adults and $ 5 for children 4—12, under 4, free), worth every penny. Once there, it’s free. But if you are planning the long climb to the crown, expect to pay another $3. 

*Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at where else but Coney Island is the place to be. It’s on the boardwalk at the beach and you have a chance to chow down on as many hot dogs as you can manage, although you will be up against a returning six-time champ. However you can just watch. No charge for eyeballing the hot dogs. And Nathan’s will once again donate 100,000 hot dogs to the Food Bank for New York City.

*Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks along the Hudson River is a must. Called the mother of all pyrotechnics, more than 40,000 fireworks will dance across the sky in tune to a 25-minute patriotic songfest. Best of all, it’s free. Just find a great spot before sunset and bring an all-American picnic of cold chicken and apple pie.

Gettysburg, Pa. —

Re-enactment at Gettysburg

This is the 150th anniversary of our country’s bloodiest battle that raged from July 1—3, 1863, killing more than 50,000 men, Union and Confederate soldiers.

*Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg Foundation are marking the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg through this Sunday, July 7. There is a self-drive tour, ranger-led tours and hikes, the 150th Junior Ranger challenge, and artillery demonstrations. You will leave the battlefield both wiser and sadder.

*Outside of the national battlefield itself, in the town of Gettysburg, a re-creation and re-enactment of the battle and lives of the soldiers in camp will be staged with 15,000 re-enactors on hand. For more information on the re-enactment activities go to its website.

Mt. Rushmore —

Mt. Rushmore

Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mt. Rushmore is the legendary home of four of our greatest presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodor Roosevelt carved into the face of the mountain.

What could be more American than to spend the day with the four presidents  — or their historic impersonators? Part of the National Park Service, Mt. Rushmore is often seen as the site of a patriotic pilgrimages by many Americans.

Sitting at the base of the presidents great faces or hearing their stories on the 4th of July makes it all that more significant.

Fourth of July will begin with Native American flute player Sequia Crosswhite, followed by getting up close and personal with the “presidents.” However, there will be no fireworks this year because of the fire danger to the surrounding forests, thanks to the unusually hot summer. The only fee is $11 for parking.

But even if you get no further than your local parade or fireworks, have yourself a red, white and blue Fourth of July.

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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

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