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TheStreet Open House

Untraditional Fourth of July Traditions

By Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

NEW YORK ( MainStreet)--Go to any town or city in American around the Fourth of July, and chances are you will find some sort of celebration - typically involving fireworks - marking America's independence from the British.

However, some cities and towns have combined other celebrations with the mid-summer Fourth of July holiday that can only be loosely tied to a traditional Independence Day celebration. MainStreet has put together a list of eight of the most unique Independence Day celebrations in the country:

  • 1. National Tom Sawyer Days, Hannibal, Mo: Although Mark Twain was born in Florida, Mo. on November 30, 1835, the town of Hannibal, where his boyhood home sits, is the place that celebrates his life and legacy. The festival, named for Twain's most famous book, has a parade, carnival and even a fence painting contest.
  • 2. The Big Dig, Miramar Beach, Fla.: This year, the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa will kick off its annual Fourth of July weekend celebration on July 3 with "The Big Dig," an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the most people buried in the sand simultaneously. There is no fee to enter, but donations and proceeds from T-shirt sales will be donated to America's Wounded Warriors Project.
  • 3. Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, Davenport, Iowa: Some might argue that there is no music more American than the blues, but we doubt our Founding Fathers were playing it when signing the Declaration of Independence. This festival runs July 4 to 6 and has been going strong on Independence Day for 28 years.
  • 4. Pirates of the Hudson: The Siege of Sleepy Hollow, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.: We've seen Revolutionary War actors on Independence Day, but this truly unique festival celebrating all things pirate looks like a blast. The fun runs from July 4 to 7 at 381 North Broadway (Route 9).
  • 5. National Basque Festival, Elko, Nev.: We all know that the United States is made up largely of immigrants, so it only fitting that some top off their Independence Day celebrations remembering the heritage of their ancestors. The National Basque Festival celebrates an ethic group originating in the area straddling north-central Spain and south-western France. The festival runs from July 5-7.
  • 6. Pink Salmon Festival, Valdez, Alaska: Celebrating the Fourth with fireworks is uniquely American, but celebrating it with pink salmon is uniquely Alaskan. "If your family happens to be spending Independence Day in Alaska, it's only fair to warn you: We don't do July 4 like other places," writes Erin Kirkland, a travel blogger in Alaska. "What we lose in darkness and fireworks, we make up for in self-silly antics, shenanigans and otherwise crazy celebrations that are for sure, uniquely Alaskan." Kayak jousting is just a sample of events at the Pink Salmon Festival on July 4.
  • 7. Freedom Swim, Charlotte Harbor, Fla: Many cities and towns have races of all types, but how many are host to a no-holds-barred - and by that they mean you can skinny dip if you like - leisurely swim across the river? This 20-year-old event has no registration and no rules with the exception of using common sense and courtesy for this annual swim across the Peace River. Some take the meaning of "freedom" literally, but we're told that many swimmers do wear red, white and blue swimwear these days. The event takes place on July 4.
  • 8. Fishtown Horribles Parade, Gloucester, Mass.: This old-fashioned parade is anything but traditional red, white and blue tributes. The parade got its start way back when farmers brought their farm animals to march with children dressed in outlandish costumes. The event originated at 5 a.m. on July 4, which is a horrible time in itself, but was later changed to 6 p.m. on July 3rd. While you can find some things typical of any Independence Day parade anywhere in the country, you'll find just about every theme in this one.
  • --Written by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell for Mainstreet

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