Written By Jessica Sichel

Founding father John Adams thought Independence Day would be commemorated on July 2, when the decision for independence from Great Britain was made, not July 4, the date of the actual Declaration of Independence document:

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

“You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”

– John Adams in a letter to his wife, Abigail, July 3, 1776

Adams spoke passionately of Independence Day as a day for future celebration. As he wrote his letter, others in our young country prepared for war. Still, he encouraged celebrations like those we have now: games, parades, and “illuminations.”
It is amazing that these events, thought of so long ago, actually happen around us now. Here are a few places you can join in:

River Valley Ranch: Picnic in the Park and Fireworks Display
When: June 28, 2014 – Picnic grounds open at 2 p.m.; radio personalities Jack and Erin on live broadcast from 95.1 Shine FM – 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.; fireworks after sunset
Where: River Valley Ranch, 4443 Grave Run Road, Millers
Cost: $5 per person for ages 3 and up or up to $25 per car (extra cost for horse rides, hay rides, swimming pool, and food vendors. No busses.)
Enjoy a free rodeo, an “authentic chuckwagon supper”, water areas and sports fields for the kids (or adventurous adults), animals, the camp store, music provided by the Westminster Municipal Band and – of course – a great fireworks show! The event is very kid-friendly, restroom facilities are available, and you can experience an actual working ranch firsthand. For more information, visit

Manchester Carnival and Fireworks Display
When: Monday, June 30 – Saturday, July 5 (dates subject to correction; Fireworks one night only)
Where: Manchester Volunteer Fire Department Carnival Grounds, 3927 York St., Manchester
Cost: Firework display is free
The show airs between the carnival grounds and the Christmas Tree Park area.

The Carroll County Farm Museum:Old Fashioned July 4th Picnic, Celebration, and Fireworks
When: July 4, 2014, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Where: The Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 South Center Street, Westminster
Cost: $5 per Person or $10 per Family (until 5 PM, after which a parking fee will be collected to help fund the firework display)
Plenty of things to do for the whole family: entertainment on stage, children’s games, tours of the living history center, and the exhibit buildings. The museum gift shop will be open. Food and crafts will also be for sale.The 20-minute fireworks display, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Westminster, begins around 9:30 p.m. and has a great finale. For more information, you can contact the Carroll County Farm Museum: 410-386-3880.