History of the Celebration
Fourth of July in the U.S. is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire. Up to this date, Independence Day has been a national holiday marked by patriotic displays. Similar to other summer-themed events, Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors, with barbecue grills, of course. No matter what BBQ you are serving, it is the patriotism that’s within you that’s important. Anyway, below is a sample invitation to an Independence Day celebration in 1825, and an Independence Day promotional clip from 1940:
My Present Day Celebration Experience at Foster City, California
Come present day, in the San Francisco Bay Area, you might expect that the best location to celebrate this historic event is in downtown San Francisco. This may present itself as an argument, as there are other locations within the Bay Area that locals highly prefer and tend to go to more often for this event. While you can go all touristy on cruises, free walking tours, and fireworks display events in downtown SF, you can go local and feel this all-American tradition at Leo Ryan Park in Foster City, CA.
On the Fourth of July, this wide park turns into a picnic area, packed with a huge crowd, camping tents, and barbecue stands, which for me is the star of this event. People in their festive and patriotic moods, dressed in American themed hats, shirts, pants, and shades listen and party to live country music while munching on freshly grilled food straight from their own BBQ pits. Inflatable play areas and slides and wall climbing stuff are set-up to provide additional entertainment to children as well. Young men and women play football in the busy picnic grounds. A stage has been setup for the night’s concert. American flags are everywhere. It really feels like what you see in American movies. Not like the festival in SF, where everything feels touristy (don’t get me wrong; I love SF, too).
As for the body of water serving the fireworks event, a huge lagoon with canals leading to locals’ homes is Foster City’s answer to SF’s bay. The wide lagoon right in front of the park has been very busy, thanks to the locals arriving in the park in their little boats from their homes in the canals, and also to the event staff preparing for the night’s fireworks event.
If you wish to join next year’s event at Foster City, a few notes: since picnic and camping area is huge but limited, it is advisable to arrive before 8AM to reserve your prime spot (prime spot is by the lagoon for an undisrupted view of the fireworks and stunning views of the lagoon) and just bar-b-q the day away. The portable toilets are also limited and of course dirty after a while, so be sure to bring sanitizer sprays and do your business even before the line becomes a blockbuster prior to the fireworks display (event is from 9:30PM-10PM). Drinking alcohol is allowed until 5pm, and by alcohol it means you have to expect some disruptions, policemen, and the fire department later into the day. Once the fireworks display is done, the crowd starts to pack things up and leave, and police starts to rove around as well so I suggest you start packing your stuff before and during the big bangs so you can leave once it’s done to avoid the crowd and traffic.
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