Heavens to Betsy, who is that marching in the parade?

Just a few ideas for a fireworks-less Fourth

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— In anticipation of an Independence Day sans pyrotechnics, I thought I might offer seven suggestions on how you can make the most of a Fourth of July without the annual fireworks show.

No. 1: Pick a water balloon fight with your neighbor. Don't warn him or her in advance.

Just sneak up while they are dead-heading the petunias and let fly, while shouting: "Give me liberty, or give me death!"

If that doesn't start some fireworks, I don't know what will.

A word of caution: check to see if it is your day to irrigate your neighbor's lawn before launching your watery attack local police are being extra vigilant this holiday.

Red, white and blue balloons are preferred, but not mandatory.

No. 2: Rediscover the lost art of making homemade ice cream. Motorized ice cream freezers are everywhere.

But that's not what you want. You want the old-fashioned hand cranked model. You can find them online at www.mainstsupply.com. These beauties by White Mountain are made of maple wood.

The four-quart model is $130, so you might as well step up to the six-quart model for $140.

Now you might be asking, "Tom, how many quarts of ice cream does my family need to crank out before we break even on our $140 investment?"

And you would be missing the point.

First, homemade ice cream is creamier than anything you've ever tasted.

Second, you cannot put a price on establishing democratic traditions among your progeny.

The idea is that everyone sits in a circle and takes a turn at the crank, thus building a sense of accomplishment from the frozen treat about to be produced by the sweat of your American biceps.

For Independence Day, I suggest adding peppermint extract and crushed peppermint candies to vanilla ice cream.

Remember to avoid getting any rock salt above the rim of the cream canister.

No. 3: While you are online, pop on over to www.webundies.com and shop for American Flag boxers.

They have five different styles to choose from beginning at $5.95 and running all the way up to $11.95.

I like the model that has wavy stripes, making it look like Old Glory is blowing in the wind.

You don't need to wear much more than these boxers and a pair of sandals to the neighborhood cookout.

But if you're headed over to the pro rodeo at Romick Arena at 7 p.m. on Thursday, I suggest you accessorize your boxers with cowboy boots and a straw cowboy hat. I'm sure you'll be made to feel welcome.

No. 4: Let the Lions Club feed you breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. at the park near the Community Center.

They have sausage and pancakes and everything. And you might meet old acquaintances you haven't seen since Independence Day, 1976.

No. 5: Enter yourself in Steamboat's down-home funky Fourth of July Parade.

Heck, they let political candidates march, why shouldn't you? You have until noon on Tuesday to swing by the Chamber Information Center at 1255 S. Lincoln Ave. and fill out an entry form.

Or call 879-0882, ext. 201.

This year's special judging category is for male impersonators of Betsy Ross.

No. 6: After the parade, at about 11 a.m., head straight for the Tread of Pioneers Museum at Eighth and Oak streets.

The museum's block party features a free performance of the Boulder Brass Ensemble sponsored by Strings in the Mountains.

John Philip Sousa couldn't make it this year, but you're sure to hear plenty of patriotic Fourth of July marches.

No. 7: Speaking of patriotism, remind your youngsters of the solemn events behind the holiday (here's a hint we're celebrating the date when our founding forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776).

In case your memory needs refreshing, the Declaration of Independence begins like this:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Fireworks or no fireworks, all of us should stop and reflect for a moment on the sacrifices so many men and women made during the last 12 months in the name of freedom.

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