Barbeques, beach parties, and fireworks are likely on the agenda for many celebrators of the Fourth of July. Such festivities bring together friends, family, and new acquaintances to enjoy the holiday. As the party table is set and refreshments get passed around, it can be fun to talk about a few tidbits from the past (courtesy of History [[history.com]], the Census Bureau, and a few other sources.)
One of the interesting details about the founding of the country, says History, is that the actual vote for independence by the original colonies was held on July 2. The Second Continental Congress continued to revise the Declaration of Independence for the next couple of days, and then approved the document on July 4. It then took another month to first clearly handwrite the declaration on parchment and have the delegates sign it. John Hancock, then president of the Second Continental Congress, famously signed it first.
According to the Census Bureau, there were some 2.5 million people living in the colonies at the time the new country was declared. Obviously, America has done a bit of growing since the colonial days, with the nation expanding from the eastern seaboard to the Pacific Ocean. As of July 4, 2016, there were 323.1 million people living in the United States.
The fight for independence began well before the signing of the declaration and continued for numerous years after. Gen. George Washington made note of the anniversary in 1778 and on that Fourth of July he gave his troops an extra helping of rum so they could celebrate.
Over the years, a number of nationwide traditions sprang up tied to celebrating the Fourth of July—in particular the eating of hot dogs. While it is true that hot dogs are a favorite food at ballparks and other sporting events, July 4 is the single day in the U.S. when the most hot dogs are eaten. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, more than 155 million hot dogs get consumed on average on this holiday. That is enough hot dogs to span the country from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles five times over (with some extra left for the people who show up late to the BBQ.)
The holiday goes hand-in-hand with fireworks shows, and that is a major affair both as a business and for entertainment. The Census Bureau says in 2016 some $296.2 million worth of fireworks were imported from China, making up the vast majority of all fireworks imported to the U.S. The Macy’s Fireworks show held in New York City is the largest in the nation, with more than 40,000 shells launched by some 12,000 pounds of black powder.
Along with the cookouts, visits to the beach, and pyrotechnics, there are other memorable ways to commemorate the Fourth of July. A quick search online may uncover nearby history tours, which can be especially fun after the sun sets and temperatures cool down.
Whatever way you choose to celebrate the day, have a safe and enjoyable time.
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