Things to Do This July 4th Weekend to Celebrate That Are Easy, Cheap or Free
Independence Day will soon be upon us and with the coronavirus pandemic behind us now. We can all start having some fun this July 4th weekend. As I recall My wife Donna and I raised eight very active children, and with that came the challenge of keeping them fed and entertained (on the cheap).
I'll share with you some of the things that became a family tradition and or favorites that are either easy, cheap, or free. To this day the older kids say those were the most fun times ever, and I totally agree.
First off the Annual Freedom Festival is no more, and the fireworks display will take place near the Abilene Zoo on Sunday, July 3rd at dusk (more details below). Additionally, there will not be a downtown Abilene festival this year either.
What follows next are just some ideas that the kids and I remember as being the most fun, entertaining, and very Independence Day-inspired. I hope you get as much enjoyment as we did. Here goes:
1st Fly the Flag
Proudly display your flag, we fly the flags our family members have served under. We make sure they're worthy of flying. Not too faded, not too tattered, and not torn. If your flag has seen better days, please retire it properly by contacting the Boy Scouts, Lions Club, or the American Legion.
2nd Listen to Patriotic Music
One thing I'm very guilty of is that I start playing patriotic music on the Fourth of July from the minute I get up. Nothing screams Independence Day like Lee Greenwood and the Boston Pops. If you'll start the day with Lee or the Boston Pops patriotic medley of songs, you'll feel a more genuine sense of patriotic pride. Just try it, my kids will tell you they were inspired to get up and get ready for the day.
3rd Bake Something Patriotic
Baking a red, white, and blue flag cake is my daughter Branddy's patriotic idea. She's been baking a 9 by 13-inch cake and simply covered it with whipped cream. She then arranges blueberries and strawberries to create her patriotic-themed cake. You should see the kid's eyes when the cake comes out and is ready to be served after dinner.
4th Barbecuing in the Back Yard
Barbecuing is my domain. I learned at an early age, that the best way to please my family is with hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, and ribs for the boys, chicken for the girls, and plenty of grilled seasonal veggies like corn on the cob, jalapeno poppers, squash and smoked baked potatoes (my favorite veggie). At least I know I'll hear peace and quiet while the children devour all of "dad's" awesome creations.
5th Watching a Fourth of July Parade
Abilene is very fortunate to have several fun neighborhood parades. Some of the ones I recall are on Amarillo Street, Jeannette Street, Button Willow Parkway, and Mesquite Forrest neighborhoods. The neighborhood parades have always taken place either in the morning hours before noon or in the evening when cooler temperatures prevail.
6th Make Your Own Homemade Ice Cream
We always have leftover strawberries and/or blueberries from the cake-making ceremony earlier in the day. What berries are left end up in the ice cream maker. Here's the Fernandez family "super-easy" recipe for fresh berries ice cream, enjoy!
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla extract
2 cups chopped or mashed fresh strawberries (and/or other berries)
In a bowl big enough to accommodate all the ingredients, mix the milk, sugar, vanilla, cream, salt, and berries. Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker's freezer bowl and start cranking and/or turning on the ice cream maker (following the manufacturer's directions). Enjoy!
7th Watch a Fireworks Display
On July 3rd, 2022, gather up your flags, then go watch a fireworks show. Abilene will have fireworks this year at the 15th Annual Fireworks Spectacular at the Abilene Zoo at Festival Gardens in Nelson Park. Remember to take your lawn chairs, picnic blanket, and your camera, then share your pictures with us on our KEAN-105 Facebook page.
Finally, as my kids were growing up I made it a point to celebrate Independence Day in a big way because our family has had so many relatives that have given their all to defend the freedoms we enjoy today. I've made a commitment to show our kids and grandkids what "Independence Day" is all about. Happy fourth y'all.