Every Fourth of July, we celebrate America and the freedom so many have fought for. It's a joyous day for many, but there's one part of it — one very natural part of it, for some of us — that's actually upsetting to others: the fireworks. Fortunately, you have plenty of ways to celebrate the Fourth of July without fireworks and still enjoy the magic this day brings.
Understandably, the idea that fireworks might cause some people anxiety doesn't even occur to most of us. Fireworks have been a part of the Fourth of July our entire lives. But for people who have anxiety or people who have PTSD that might be triggered by the distinctively loud noise of fireworks, they may not be a cause for celebration; in fact, many organizations have made note to be respectful to veterans at this time of year who may be affected by the displays, leaving signs outside of veterans' houses to encourage people to light their fireworks elsewhere.
And even further, fireworks can be dangerous, especially when mishandled. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, on average about 280 people go to the emergency room for fireworks-related injuries in the time surrounding the Fourth of July each day.
We can all do our part both to be respectful of veterans and keep safe. If you want to celebrate the Fourth sans fireworks, here are some suggestions so that everyone in your neighborhood has a fun holiday.
1. Have A Patriotic Feast
Celebrate the red, white, and blue minus the fireworks with a feast fit for royalty. Patriotic foods and beverages will still give you all the Fourth of July feels and are also vet-friendly. Hold a potluck where everyone contributes, or you could even introduce a little friendly competition with a bake-off.
You know what they say: food is the answer to everything. For the record, "they" means me.
2. Play With Other Kinds Of Fire
If you don't want to skip the pyrotechnics completely, load up on sparklers! They still give off the fireworks vibe but not the startling sound. Plus, they're more easily contained, meaning you can enjoy them without your neighbors having to experience them also.
Plus, you can wave them around in the air and take photos and they'll look really cool.
3. Have A Bonfire
Still having the urge to light something up? A bonfire is toasty warm and it'll help keep the mosquitos away and you can roast marshmallows to make some wicked good s'mores. Like sparklers, a fire is small and contained and private, and shouldn't be cause for trauma to nearby vets. Plus, nothing screams summertime like huddling around a bonfire.
4. Channel Your Inner Child
You know what sounds dope?
A water balloon fight.
Oh man. I can just imagine my 30-year-old butt chucking water balloons at people's heads. Can you think of anything better? It's hot. It's humid. It's sticky. Cool off the way we used to when we were kids.
5. Marathon-Watch Your Favorite Flicks
Pick a bunch of the best Fourth of July or summer-related movies and plop down in the living room with some popcorn. Independence Day is the perfect time to work on your couch potato skills, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
6. Head To The Beach
If there's a beach nearby, I'd bet my bottom dollar they have some stellar activities going on. In my neck of the woods, the Fourth of July means kayaking, canoeing, and (my personal favorite) paddle boarding. Plus, the activities usually go late into the night, so you get to keep the fun going under the stars.
Just don't forget the SPF — that sun is no joke.
7. Host A Block Party
Don't you want to be the hostess with the mostest? Of course! Gather all your neighbors — yes, even the cranky old one nobody likes — and have a giant cookout. We're talking BBQing, music, and red, white, and blue jello shots (and juice boxes for the kids).
8. Find A Local Parade
Dancers and baton twirlers. Marching bands and floats. Heaven? Nope. It's your local Fourth of July parade. A quick Google search will show you all the action happening in your area. I have it on good authority there might even be snacks and cold beverages.