Photo by Ariel da Silva Parreira from FreeImages
Photo by Ariel da Silva Parreira from FreeImages

Pull out the potato salad and fire up the grill. Even with parades and fireworks canceled in many communities it’s still a full-on, red, white, and blue holiday with plenty of ways to celebrate!

Why not start with dessert? Check out the kid-colorful Red, White and Blue Cake from Betty Crocker. Another option is this Red, White and Blue Poke Cake from the Meatloaf & Melodrama blog. The fun comes in both the process and the ingredients, as the post says, “After the cake cools, you use the handle of a wooden spoon or wide straw to poke holes in the cake” (and what child wouldn’t love the green light to poke holes in something?) and then you pour in liquid red or blue Jello. “Let the cake cool off in the fridge, and then frost it with whipped topping, and top it with sliced strawberries and plenty of blueberries.”

In lieu of the usual public gatherings at the center of the holiday, communities, as well as families, are getting creative with this year’s “main course” for the nation’s birthday party. For example, Chicago Parent pulled together a list of “10 Fourth of July Events for Chicago Families,” including a US President Virtual Trivia Contest via Zoom on July 1 at 12:30 (we assume Central Time). It says, “In honor of Independence Day, put your knowledge to the test with a star-spangled list of 20 trivia questions about the Presidents of the United States. Great for kids who know their presidents.”

Whether your kids do or don’t know their presidents just yet, an excellent way to learn more about them is by trying the President Flash Cards on School Zone’s online curriculum, Try doing them in order or randomly. For example, start by naming the 19th U.S. president. Rutherford B. Hayes is the answer, and players will also discover he was the first president to have both a telephone and a typewriter at the White House! In addition to learning more about those who have led the country, these flash cards provide historical context and timeline for both significant events and fun facts.

If the fam is still pining for pyrotechnics, Chicago Parent also lists drive-up, drive-in, and stay-home fireworks throughout its readership region. Check your local media and community websites for news of similar. In the article, stay-home fireworks refer to a town that is hosting 3 simultaneous fireworks displays that should allow residents of the area to view from the comfort and socially distanced safety of their homes 

The article also lists one suburb that is holding a “porch parade” on the Fourth. It says, “As an alternative to the traditional Fourth of July parade, Northbrook residents are invited to create their own ‘floats’ by decorating their porch, house, front yard, or front window. Families can then follow the ‘route’ to see the decorated homes from their cars. The interactive map will be shared via the Village website, social media, or by texting” a specified number. Though the day is getting close, your neighborhood might still be able to pull off something similar. Be the first!

One point of special caution this Independence Day, is that with the big aerial fireworks grounded, more people may be tempted to indulge in “do it yourself” backyard and lakefront “shows.” One Milwaukee news station headline says it all in that regard: “With 4th of July Celebrations Canceled Due to COVID-19, Business Is Booming at Fireworks Shops.” Reporter Christina Van Zelst quotes Riley Harlow, a fireworks shop manager who reminds that “only adults should handle the fireworks, while wearing safety goggles and having a water bucket on hand for safety.”

The article also reminds everyone: “Make sure to check the rules depending on where you live—as fireworks aren’t legal everywhere.”

This Fourth of July will be different, but with a little creativity it can still explode with good times, great memories, and new traditions.