Having lived in the same small town for all my life, I've only experienced the 4th of July traditions that take place within a small beach town– fireworks, barbecuing, swimming, far too competitive beach volleyball tournaments, and unbearable lines of traffic all across town. While these activities hold a special place in my heart, I was shocked to find out about a few rogue 4th of July traditions that happen around the country. I feel like I'm missing out on some outrageous fun!
While it may seem weird to celebrate Independence Day in any other way than you are used to, here are six unique and special 4th of July celebrations that are definitely worth the plane ride or road trip!
1. Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest (Brooklyn, New York)
If you would like to witness men and women scarfing down dozens of hotdogs in competitive fashion, I would direct you to Nathan's Restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. This Coney Island tradition is nationally recognized and televised, drawing 40,000 fans a year in person and almost 2 million viewers on ESPN– I guess hot dog eating is a 'sport' worthy of ESPN coverage!
Over the recent years, a man by the name of Joey Chestnut has slowly and impressively increased the world record to eating a whopping 75 hotdogs in 10 minutes! I'm confidant that I've never even seen 75 hotdogs in one place in my life! The women's world record is held by Miki Sudo at a staggering 48.5 hotdogs in 10 minutes! It seems like every fraction of a dog counts at the highest level!
2. Lobster Racing (Bar Harbor, Maine)
Whether you enjoy sports betting or are simply a fan of our red crustacean friends, you will be pleasantly surprised by the grandiose nature of Bar Harbor's annual lobster race. Since 1978, the Mount Desert Island Y.M.C.A. has put together a course for lucky lobsters to navigate through with one goal in mind– reaching the finish line. During the race, many lobsters spend time resting in the same spot not moving a claw, and even moving backwards– now that I think of it, the lobsters might be more concerned about not being eaten than they are about crossing the finish line victoriously! Hundreds of spectators come and place $1 bets on the lobster of their choice so pick wisely and you could win small! You may even be lucky enough to stumble upon a lobster race in other regions of the country... that is if you know where to look!
3. Vintage Car Show (Lakehurst, New Jersey)
On the 4th of July, the grounds of Lakehurst Elementary school look a little different than usual. Instead of being filled with rambunctious children shouting and playing, the field is filled with beautiful antique cars from years gone by. Hundreds of people are drawn every year to see these sleek cars, watch fireworks, and play games. If you're interested to see what your parents, grandparents, and maybe even great grandparents once rode around town in, the Lakehurst car show surely will give you an idea!
4. The Boat Parade (Murrells Inlet, South Carolina)
Since 1984, residents and visitors of Murrells Inlet have packed their boats full of friends and family sporting red white and blue attire and decorations to the fullest extent! This year, the boat entry fee is waived to encourage more participants in light of financial struggles people have ensued throughout the pandemic. The parade launches from Garden City Point, winds through the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk, and finishes at the Hot Fish Club. If you are a fan of patriotic spirit, boats, and beers, I definitely recommend you to check out this fun water festivity!
5. The San Francisco Mime Troupe (San Francisco, California)
Heres a tradition your grandparents might have been witness to! Since 1959, the San Francisco Mime Troupe has been packing Dolores Park for a 4th of July show. The goal of the troupe is to present a working-class perspective of events and circumstances that shape our world. Through this activist art, the troupe embodies the intentions of the working class as they promote self governance and social justice. While the troupe puts on shows all throughout the year, they are known for their popular outdoor 4th of July spectacle! Learn more about the rich history of the SF Mime Troupe here.
6. Computer Trap Shoot (South Central Kentucky)
If you shook your head at the idea of lobster racing, you will be in awe of this next activity. In preparation for the patriotic holiday, Kentuckians collect obsolete pieces of technology and wait mischievously for the 4th– what else is there to do?! On the momentous day, the group ventures into the woods and proceeds to blow the old pieces of tech into smithereens with guns of all variety. If you've ever been frustrated beyond belief with computer issues, this event might be the perfect stress reliever and bucket list item if you're ever in Kentucky!
Did you ever expect your fellow Americans to be betting on a lobster race!? Seriously, I can't decide whether the lobster racing or computer trap shoot screams AMERICA more! If you're REALLY interested, here is a link to a video of the computer trap shoot so you can see what you're missing out on!
More seriously, consider venturing out of your usual Independence Day routine to see what our amazingly shocking American culture has to offer. Remember, this is by no means an exhaustive list but it aims to give an indication of the special events that take place in the nooks and crannies of the United States. Personally, I hope to have a boat in the Murrells Inlet Parade someday! Maybe I'll see you there!