In the U.S., we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, while in Canada, our neighbors celebrate Canada Day on July 1st. We can both lay claim to some pretty goofy traditions.
In Oatman, Arizona, on July 4th they like to challenge the premise that it is “so hot outside you could fry an egg.” We don’t know eggactly when the tradition started but we can be pretty sure it has something to do with the seasonal heat. Oatman opted to make this challenge an annual solar-frying contest. So you can fry an egg during the day and catch the fireworks at night.
As a way of celebrating Canadian hardiness in the face of extreme cold, Canadians place their next day’s underwear in the freezer June 30. If anyone forgets and gets caught, they are given the “ice wedgie.”
Lobster racing takes place in, where else, Bar Harbor, Maine. Each year, one of New England’s preferred foods is set loose to race against time and other lobsters. This is even a betting sport, with people cheering on their favorites. The lobsters don’t quite get the idea of the game, so some simply wander off while others sit at the starting line.
Ocean Beach, California, takes a much lighter tone to celebrate. The toss marshmallows at each other. Everyone gets involved and it means sticky fun for all. The s’mores probably come later.
Each Canada Day, all Canadian children between the ages of 6 and 12 are separated into French-speaking and English-speaking groups. After attaching pillows to their ears, they then take part in a round-robin fistfight tournament, with the winner receiving the “Maple Crown.”
Tug of War is a traditional harmless summer game. But in Bolinas and Stinson Beach, California, well, they seem to take it to extremes. Every Fourth of July, these two towns challenge each other to a Tug of War across the Bolinas Channel that separates the towns. They have both men’s and women’s competitions. But here’s the catch. Bolinas apparently has a 200-pound weight minimum for participants, while Stinson Beach has in past years brought in teammates that include 500-pound Samoans, the UC Berkeley rowing team, the San Francisco Golden Gate rugby team and even a a Jeep.
Finally, and, most likely, not everyone’s cup of tea, the people of Hailey, Idaho, play an unusual annual game to celebrate independence. The parade route is marked out in a series of 10,000 squares, and participants buy the squares to play. The route of the Fourth of July parade follows this path and the game is to see in what squares the horses leave “road apples” behind. If a dropping lands in a paid-for square, the name of the owner of that square goes into a drum for a chance to win prizes.
We celebrate with gusto and imagination. Whatever you do this holiday, have fun but be safe.
Happy Independence Day from Big Five Tours. Be sure to browse tour destinations for your next trip.