9 Ways to Spark Up Your Independence Day Celebration

American flag
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Looking for ways to declare your independence from traditional Fourth of July celebrations?

Nothing holds a Roman candle to fireworks, parades, hot-dog eating contests and barbecues, but sometimes we all need to freshen up our pursuit of happiness. Here are eight affordable ideas — and one splurge.

1. Listen to the red, white and blues

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What rocks your patriotic spirit? Is it Jimi Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner” from Woodstock? Beyoncé from President Barack Obama’s second inauguration? Or Ayla Brown with the Boston Pops?

Lead your playlist with your favorite patriotic songs, from “Surfin’ USA” to “God Bless the USA.” You might want to include a country song or three, as the Fourth is also National Country Music Day, honoring Jimmie Rodgers and country music.

2. Sing out strong

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Get your kids or party guests to perform popular patriotic songs. They could include any combination of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee (America),” “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America” and “This Land Is Your Land.” The National Institutes of Health has compiled traditional patriotic songs with lyrics and instrumentals, making it easy to put on a free singalong.

3. Host a patriotic potluck

Summer potluck dinner
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Tell your party guests to bring food that is red, white and blue. That could be as simple as a flag formed from strawberries, blueberries, marshmallows and whipped cream. But it might also include Martha Stewart’s Red, White and Blueberry Spritzer for the grown-ups. You can watch her make it for free on her website.

4. Watch a patriotic film

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Movies old and new carry messages about the forming of America and its ongoing spirit of freedom and liberty. And if your holiday celebration is likely to be rained out, a patriotic film festival might be just the thing to keep your Yankee Doodle dandy.

For a musical retelling of the nation’s birth and signing of the Declaration of Independence, see “1776.” In “The Patriot,” Mel Gibson portrays a pacifist farmer who becomes a Revolutionary War hero. Or, watch a film with a hero like Captain America.

Make your own watch list or get inspiration from others’ patriotic picks, such as these in The Boston Globe.

5. View fireworks from above

Fourth of July party
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This one likely will cost you, but you could book an airplane flight to coincide with your local fireworks and watch the show from above. Choose between a commercial jet taking off on a route within sight of your display, or a sightseeing aircraft circling the event, which may run upward of $100 a passenger for 20 minutes.

6. Be a secret Uncle Sam

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Santa’s not around this time of year, but he’s still watching to see who’s naughty or nice. Military.com says one nice Independence Day gesture is to act as a secret Uncle Sam.

Tie carnations to red, white and blue ribbons and hang them on doorknobs in your neighborhood. Red, white and blue helium balloons work, too.

7. Dress up in red, white and blue

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Find your Independence Day look on the cheap by visiting a thrift store and putting together red, white and blue duds. You can also simply wear red, white and blue items from your closet.

8. Play an American game

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Organize a traditional American game of baseball, or host a field day with strange games. Try baseball using kiddie pools filled with water for bases. Home plate may soon look like a slip-and-slide.

9. Revel in history

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Celebrate America by visiting one of its national parks. At Mount Rushmore National Memorial, you can meet the presidents carved into the mountain – actors portraying George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt will be there on July 4. However, note that fireworks no longer are part of festivities.

Want a weekend getaway? You may still be able to get campground reservations at a national, state or local park. Many sites are booked in advance for the holiday weekend, but most parks have a portion of their sites set aside for use on first-come-first-served basis. Check online to view park policy and availability before you load up the car and go.

How are you celebrating Independence Day? Let us know why by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

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