Four Unusual Traditions for the Fourth of July

There are plenty of traditions associated with the Fourth of July:  fireworks, parades, family barbeques.  Here are four unusual celebrations that have been shaped by their unique locations!

1. Coney Island: Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest


Image via Things to See NYC

For nearly 100 years, Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand in Coney Island, Brooklyn has celebrated the nation’s independence by sponsoring a hot dog eating contest. Upon closer examination, the tradition is more patriotic that it seems. Legend has it that the first contest was held in 1916, in order to settle a dispute between four immigrants as to who was the most patriotic.

2. Murrell’s Inlet, SC: Parade of Boats


Murrell’s Inlet Hooked on Freedom. Image via Fun Beaches

What is a community to do when its waterways are more popular transportation corridors than Main Street?  Take the Independence Day Parade to the creek, of course! In Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina they give parade float a more literal meaning! Boats are festooned in red, white and blue then paraded down the local creek to the cheers of spectators lining the  shores.

3.  New England Salmon
In New England, the tradition of eating salmon on the Fourth of July is as old as the US.  According to legend,  Abigail Adams served up the dish to John Adams on the first 4th of July in 1776! The tradition stuck because the date coincided with schools of salmon swarming New England rivers midsummer.  Unfortunately Atlantic salmon are on the decline, forcing New Englanders to source their favorite patriotic dish elsewhere. Luckily,  the tradition lives on, along with the peas and new potatoes (also in season) served alongside it.

4. Grave Yard Cleaning Off and Potluck


I didn’t have a photo of our family gathering handy, but this is the family cemetery courtesy of Google Maps.

While the beautification of family graves may seem like more of a Memorial Day activity to most, my family gathers at the  cemetery every Fourth of July.  The family cemetery is a smallish affair nestled in the woods of Pennyrile Forest, a Kentucky state park that abuts the property line of the former family farm.  Everyone gathers in the coolness of the morning to put fresh flowers on the graves of loved ones and ancestors.  By the time the midday heat has reached its zenith, everyone is gathered in the shade of the trees eating down home dishes in lawn chairs, catching up on news and gossip and swapping old tales. Despite doing this all my life, it is still feels pretty strange (if not a little morbid) to have a picnic among the graves of my ancestors.  But what can you do? It’s tradition…

So how does your community or family celebrate? Have any unusual traditions of your own? Share in the comments!


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