Best July 4th celebrations for families?

Our guest blogger today is Michelle L. McCarthy. She emails me with her real name, so I’m not sure what name she uses on the blog. I’ve been so focused on my brother that I totally forgot this weekend was July 4th. I’m glad Michelle didn’t forget! I appreciate so much everyone pitching in to help this week. I have several blogs that I didn’t get to use but I will try to intersperse them in during the next few weeks. My brother is still critical and in ICU. They couldn’t take out the ventilator so now he’s on a feeding tube. On that cheerful note, here’s Michelle’s July 4th blog:

With the upcoming 4th of July holiday, do you have big plans?  Do you celebrate in a traditional way with family and friends or splurge and travel out of town to experience new things?

When I was growing up (ok, and into adulthood), every holiday was a reason for the family to get together and celebrate!  We would all bring food, drinks, games and movies to one person’s house and enjoy the socializing.  It was a time for the adults to catch up and the kids to run and play!

Sometimes for the 4th of July, we’d celebrate with a picnic in the park.  We’d play some volleyball, softball, horse shoes, or putt putt, and then wait until dusk for the downtown fireworks.  Other times, we’d go to my great-uncle’s house with a pond.  This was no little gathering either!  My grandpa’s siblings, their kids, and their kids, and sometimes their kids!  I’m talking close to 100 people here!  Each “family” would pitch in a category (meat, vegetable, dessert, etc.)  The day would be enjoyed by feasting, swimming, competition volleyball-with the elders typically “schooling” the young uns, followed by driving into town and watching fireworks!

Each city seems to have something to tout as it’s “reason” why their fireworks or festivities are the best.  In Indianapolis (sorry, that’s all I can speak of with familiarity), they have a canal that sets up vendors along the White River.  They have festivities all day and then fireworks at night.  There is also Symphony on the Prairie that celebrates veterans by playing the “theme” to each branch of the service with all members (past or present) to rise during their song, capping it off with the 1812 Overture signaling the beginning of the fireworks!  It is overwhelming!

I’m relatively new to Georgia, so I’m not familiar with the “greats” that are offered locally.  Last year I went to Mall of Georgia and was VERY disappointed.  The fireworks lasted less than 15 minutes!  It was NOT worth the wait!  This was the first year that I took my little guy to see “big” fireworks.

What have you experienced in Georgia that you would consider amazing?!  We’re looking for something new to do this year!  Please share your family experiences and what you plan to do this year to celebrate!

14 comments Add your comment


July 3rd, 2009
7:50 am

I will be running the Peachtree, stuffing myself with Waffle House, followed by a luxurious shower and nap!! In the evening we will take Little E to the Mall of GA to watch fireworks with my parents. Happy 4th y’all!!


July 3rd, 2009
8:43 am

Happy 4th of July everyone. I’m going to a bbq, where we play games,always bid wiz,and lots of food.Happy to be an AMERICAN!!!!


July 3rd, 2009
9:57 am

Michelle, we use do a lot of the same things you mentioned and have many fond memories as a child of this day being the next thing to Christmas. Firework shows in GA use to be something we were very proud of here in the south and it seems as the years go by the fireworks have started to fizzle. Not sure if it’s the towns budgets cuts or what but none the less most only last for 10-20 mins at best which are really just enought to tick you off. These past two years, we have some close friends that live at Jackson Lake in Covington and they invited us down for BBQ and to watch the show. I figured we were only going to see some bottle rockets and a few other things being shot by individuals on the water and let me tell you, I was shocked. It had barely gotten dark and suddenly it was like the star spangled banner being sang but only through all the fireworks going through the air and boats lined up side by side cruising the lake for the many shows. A boat parade with all the boats decorated in lights cruised in front of their house and the fireworks went on until nearly two in the morning and these were not the cheap little fireworks, these things were something you would go see at a national event. Hours and hours of fireworks never ending with only clapping from all the people in between viewing from their boats and houses on the lake. I was taken back to say the least. I have NEVER seen such as display in all my years of living and my children were just speachless. This will be our third year going there and I wouldn’t waste my time to go anywhere else than there on the 4th. I called her when I read your blog to ask about places for the public and she said there were numerous beaches with grills that anyone can enjoy the show from and best of all, it’s FREE. Google Jackson Lake in GA, as there’s one in Texas and it will give you a lot more details. She said there is several picnic areas owned by GA Power and are free for alls for those who come. If you need more info, I’ll be glad to get it for you but I must say if you take the chance this year and venture out there, you won’t be disappointed to say the least. Just be prepared for many hours of fireworks and friendly people having a blast.


July 3rd, 2009
10:04 am

Our family will be doing the Peachtree together (well, not exactly “together”, as my husband and son will finish FAR ahead off me and my daughter!). Then we’ll run over and catch the Dunwoody 4th of July parade (150 entries, including three bands and a wide variety of fun neighborhood floats and marchers), and then we’ll have a few friends over for lunch. In the evening, we’ll go to our favorite secret place to enjoy an unobstructed and unclaustrophobic view of the Lenox fireworks, while listening to the soundtrack on the radio.

A few years ago, we were in Philadelphia just after the 4th — fascinating! While they have costumed folks reenacting all the time, it was a definite thrill to hear the Declaration “announced” in the town square on the anniversary of the day it was formally announced!

My daughter was in Europe on an orchestral tour two years ago, and was in France on July 4th. The organizers were so thoughtful, and organized fireworks for the Americans — she said that almost every kid in the group had tears in their eyes when their hosts brought them out for the surprise fireworks!

Happy 4th, everyone!

And then we’ll collapse . . . !


July 3rd, 2009
10:09 am

Favorite fireworks: The Mall in D.C. — we did that as family one year — wow! — and I remember sitting on the banks off the Potomac on the Virginia side watching the D.C. fireworks as a little girl. My husband remembers flying into NYC one July 4th evening, and flying down the Hudson River OVER the fireworks around 9 pm — he said it was the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen on July 4th — many, many fireworks viewed from overhead!!


July 3rd, 2009
1:38 pm

Happy 4th everyone! You definitely need to go to the fireworks show at LENOX! It is awesome! I know there is a crowd…but there are a lot of spots where you can sit that are close enough to see without being in the huge masses. We have been to most of the local shows over the years, and the one at Lenox is really our favorite. Very much worth the trouble of going!


July 3rd, 2009
1:46 pm

One thing that was a family favorite of ours was the huge Salute 2 America parade in downtown Atlanta. We went for many years…before I had kids I would take other people’s kids just to get to go and see it. Then they went and cancelled it last year. I need to go and see a good parade this year…any suggestions on where I might find one around Atlanta?


July 3rd, 2009
3:14 pm

We go to the fireworks display in Dillard, GA straight up I-985. It’s a pretty good show. Everyone just pulls onto the grass off of the main highway and sits outside their cars to watch.
Our 4th consists of a Christmas in Dec family reunion with my mom’s side of the family. Instead of giving each other presents, we take up a collection then one family takes the money and finds worthy causes to donate anonymously to throughout the year. The next year when we gather, that family reports on what lives the money touched. None of us need the little presents we would have bought for each other and our gathered money makes a real difference in the lives of others.


July 3rd, 2009
5:09 pm

I’m running (and walking) the Peachtree for the first time in my 39 years. I’ve always wanted to, but been too much in party mode to deal with it, so this year I’m finally doing it! Funny -we may all pass each other, and we won’t have a clue!

We head down to a family BBQ and birthday celebration with a pool. This year after wearing the kids out there, we’re headed home, depositing them with a trusted sitter and heading to a grown-up 4th party. Can’t wait!

Go to saw something about Salute to America the other day. Maybe they’re doing it again this year?


July 3rd, 2009
9:32 pm

Lake Jackson sounds like it could be a lot of fun!! I am pretty sure we’ll be grilling with some neighbors and spending time at the pool. I live out around Dacula and wish there was something closer!


July 4th, 2009
8:45 pm

I’d like to wish everyone a happy July 4th with this original song of mine:

Red, White and Blue
words and music by Dr BLT © 2009


July 4th, 2009
8:59 pm

And for those mourning the loss of Michael, here’s the country version of Billie Jean I’m working on for you.

Billie Jean (unedited sample only)
country arrangement by Dr BLT


July 5th, 2009
5:26 pm

The fireworks at Jackson Lake last night was the best I have ever seen any where. It was out of this world. It should have been on you tube.


July 6th, 2009
9:59 am

I ended up going to Auburn and they were pretty good! I think next year I might try to plan a weekend at Lake Jackson! That sounds like a wonderful place!