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Happy Fourth of July!

Independence Day is not my favorite holiday. For one thing, it’s not Christmas. (Hard for any holiday to compare to Christmas.) For another, it’s ridiculously hot in Georgia. And fireworks are loud and scary to babies. And if you go anywhere exciting to see fireworks, then traffic is a nightmare — but if you don’t go somewhere exciting to see them, then you feel left out.

It’s not that I’m unpatriotic or anything. It’s just that the Fourth always presents so many logistical challenges.

But. It’s fun. And after several years of struggling with the logistics of late-night fireworks and young kids, I think we’ve figured out a great plan for this year. I’ll let you know how it goes, but in the meantime, here’s what I think every family with kids should try to do today.

1. Walk around downtown. I don’t care how small your “downtown” is, if you live anywhere near anything that resembles a town, then they probably have something going on today. And you should be part of it. The decline of walkable neighborhoods in this country is one of the biggest contributors to our environmental problems, and by rediscovering your walkable downtown, you can start to revitalize it, if only for a day. Maybe it’s just a street with a few shops and some flags hung up for the day. That’s okay. You should still go for a stroll down Main Street and buy some ice cream from the one local store that’s left.

2. Eat healthy popsicles. Popsicles, watermelon, ice cream, and hot dogs are the four major food groups of Independence Day (does this say something about our national diet? Probably), but popsicles are the ones that are easiest to make healthy. If you can, make your own. If you can’t do that (because, say, you’re traveling), then look for healthy ones made from organic, local ingredients, like King of Pops.

3. Be a tourist in your town. Lots of businesses are closed today, but places with a patriotic theme will stay open. And if you’re off from work, what better day to celebrate your local culture by visiting a museum or tourist attraction? Supporting local businesses — especially the smallest ones — is good for your town. Or, of course, if you live in Atlanta, there are big tourist attractions to visit like the aquarium. Which we just might do.

4. Watch the local fireworks display. If you can avoid driving to see it, all the better. We can see the Turner Field fireworks display from our neighborhood, so a lot of our neighbors just sit on their porches to watch the show. We’ve never had a house with a good view of it (at least not during the summer — the trees blocked it), so we’ve always had to at least walk a few blocks for a better view. But that’s a lot better than driving to a park like Stone Mountain — and then waiting in traffic for hours to get out.

5. Walk back from the fireworks. Did I mention traffic? We are actually going to spend the day downtown so we can see the big display in Centennial Park, but instead of coming home afterward, we’re spending the night in a hotel. We’ll be able to enjoy the day downtown without worrying about getting back for bed. And even though the hotel isn’t cheap, one night in a hotel is a pretty inexpensive vacation!

How are you celebrating the Fourth of July?