In the U.S.A. the 4th of July means freedom. In these days of world turmoil nothing brings out feelings of patriotism like bringing out the red, white and blue decorations and thinking of all of the men and women who serve our country, many of them far away from home. We all are painfully aware that “Freedom is not free.” While the “4th “brings out our reflective side, it also makes us realize it is time to plan for fun times with friends and family. So start hanging those red, white and blue decorations and start planning.
In our family we have a couple of traditions that we all look forward to each 4th of July. We plan our annual family picnic with our version of the perfect potato salad, baked beans and the usual assortment of meats done to perfection on the grill. We also add the usual assortment of cookies, cakes, chips and condiments. After the last crumbs have been consumed we like to go out into the night and see the fireworks that light up the night in Southern California. It is often a wild and crazy experience. A few cities here in Orange County allow the sale of what are known as “Safe and Sane” fireworks and many people purchase and use them. Not always in a necessarily Safe and Sane manner though. Because Orange County lies so close to the Mexican border and the purchase of fireworks are legal there and in near by Nevada we have our share of illegal fireworks lighting up the sky too. Other than state approved “Safe and Sane fireworks,” in the cities that allow them, the private use of fireworks is prohibited throughout the state of California. If you are caught possessing or using them you face stiff penalties and fines. That really doesn’t stop many people from gathering their families together and doing their own version of a patriotic pyrotechnic display. It is crazy, but lots of fun to watch from a safe distance.
There are many things to do in Southern California to celebrate the 4th of July. We have nearby amusement parks like Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm who seasonally set off a firework show at a set time every evening after dark throughout the summer. This nightly display becomes extended and includes much more red, white and blue on the night of the 4th. Most of these pyrotechnics are clearly visible to much of the city for free. There is an admission charge if you want a close up view, but if you are content to bring along your lawn chair or just sit on your car trunk you can find a spot, park your car relax and enjoy the show. Just make sure to keep an eye on the younger kids as it can be a crazy and dangerous because of the traffic and the excitement of the night.
In Anaheim it is traditional for the Anaheim Stadium where the Angels’ play to host a game and have their firework showing afterward. The display is enjoyed free with the price of a game ticket. Many of the higher altitude fireworks can be seen in the area around the ball-park and you will find many people standing around in various areas surrounding the stadium watching the ‘bombs bursting in air.’ Many of the smaller cities throughout Orange County have carnivals complete with fireworks and admission to these carnivals is just a few dollars per person. See the local paper for times, location and prices of admission.
There are also numerous public parks where admission is free. Many offer picnic tables, grills and baseball fields, basketball courts and handball courts, for free but the available tables fill up fast, especially those that provide some shade, so get there early if you desire a spot. We have many lovely beaches on the ocean too and there are many fireworks displays that are viewable from the sand. On holidays though, parking is at a minimum and traffic can be horrendous, so you need to arrive very, very early for a space. There is a wide range of things to do here and see in this beautiful, diverse part of the country. Enjoy yourself, stay safe and remember to pause for a moment with your loved ones and remember the price of freedom that gives us the opportunity to celebrate this glorious holiday. Happy 4th of July!
Here is s simple family recipe for my famous Baked Beans. Everyone seems to love them and they are quick and easy to prepare.
“Family Baked Beans”
1. You will need a large baking dish, one for a large cake will work great ,and a foil one that can be thrown away without cleaning later is better.
2. Set the oven at 350 degrees.
3. ketchup, mustard and brown sugar.
4. Pre-cooked bacon to place on top
5. BBQ sauce of your choice
6. Two large cans of pork and beans, (drain excess juice from the can.)
You can make these in the pan that you are using to cook them. Pour in beans from both cans with excess juice drained off first. Add ketchup, brown sugar, a bit of mustard and some BBQ sauce to taste. Stir until brown sugar dissolves. Use several strips of pre-cooked bacon and lay across the top of beans. Place beans in the oven and cook for around an hour. The beans should be removed before they dry out too much or the bacon burns. Remember that the bacon is pre-cooked. Let cool, cover with foil and later enjoy.