Missing the July 4th celebrations of my childhood

As kids growing up in Brooklyn, my sisters and I would spend every July 4th watching our neighbors from our stoop as they broke out their stockpile of firecrackers and sparklers while our dad flipped burgers on our tiny charcoal-heated grill. We were content eating those charred burgers and if one of our neighbors offered us a sparkler, for all three of our little hands to grasp in unison, it was a good holiday.

Thinking back on it now, I kind of ache for the simplicity of my childhood’s Fourth of July plans.

Unlike my need to keep my kids on a treadmill of activity from sun-up to sundown, those weekends never involved my parents jockeying for the best spot on Pier 17 to catch a glimpse of the Macy’s fireworks show or dashing about town to make sure their kids got a proper red-white-and-blue face-painting.While I’m grateful for the overwhelming abundance of child-friendly activities New York City’s various institutions offer my kids — which were virtually non-existent when I was a child — this holiday I’m ready to take a bit of a break from the weekend activity hustle.

So, in an effort to appease both ends of the parenting spectrum — the doers and those interested in planning a more laid-back holiday — I’ll be busy just chillin on this here Ole Island of mine- grilling up veggie burgers while my son runs through our lawn sprinkler.

And here are just two more local activities worth the read…


Enjoy a pie-baking demonstration; bring a pie you baked to enter the Pie-baking contest and enter an exciting competition that pits the ordinary citizens of today against expert “colonial” cooks!  Contest will be judged by volunteers.  Help to churn old-time ice-cream, participate in the Pinwheel Parade, meet patriotic villagers from the 1800s and earlier. Regular village admission. SUNDAY, JULY 3, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. http://www.historicrichmondtown.org/

Celebrate  the 4th of July at the Alice Austen House Museum

This annual 4th of July Concert featuring the Staten Island Philharmonic has become a much beloved tradition. And what better to honor the country we love than by listening to an “American Salute” while looking at the Statue of Liberty.

Join the Staten Island Philharmonic and the Alice Austen House this 4th of July for their annual free concert called American Salute. Event begins at 6:00 PM. This old-fashioned 4th of July celebration includes a wind ensemble and chorus. Some highlights will be selections from West Side Story, Variations on America by Charles Ives, highlights from Porgy and Bess, and a piece titled American Salute by Morton Gould. The Staten Island Philharmonic conductor is CW3 Russell Houser, commander of the US Army’s 1st Armored Division band, stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso Texas. Bring your picnic blanket or chair! Note: The concert takes place in Alice Austen park with portable restrooms available to the public. The historic house is closed to the public for the holiday.

For more information contact Staten Island Philharmonic at 718.273.3250 or email siphilharmonic@aol.com


  1. says

    I had a friend on Brooklyn who let us watch on his roof. Best experience ever. Now I just get sparklers and let the kids run wild in the yard :)

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