By KATIE HOPSICKER
School is out, the sun is blazing, and 243 years have passed since our founding fathers declared independence. July 4th is always a blast with backyard barbeques, pool parties and parades galore. As your day unfolds, kick back, relax with family and friends and make your day great with fantastic food and fireworks shows. Here are some ideas:
Do it yourself sparklers
What better way to relax than spending a full day at home? As the sun sets, create your own fireworks show under the stars. New York State authorizes the sale of “sparkling devices,” which are hand-held or ground-based fireworks. According to the Town of Bethlehem Police Department, sparkling fountains, wooden stick sparklers, smoking devices, snakes, confetti-filled party poppers and paper-wrapped snappers are legal. Firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, spinners and other aerial devices are not. The sale of all items are restricted to those who are 18 or older. Make sure to display caution during use by carefully following instructions and staying aware of all your surroundings.
Fireworks flying high
For a show in the sky, the Capital District has got you covered. Check out Empire Plaza for a full blown fireworks show complete with pre-performances by Dennis DeYoung and Sawyer Fredericks. Tri-City ValleyCats will host a post-game fireworks display, and Tramps Like Us, a Springsteen tribute band, will be performing at Rivers Casino & Schenectady before the illuminations. Some say Thacher Park is a great overlook to watch the valley sparkling, and further north there will be shows at Clifton Commons in Clifton Park, Congress Park in Saratoga and the Great Escape in Queensbury.
Give me liberty and give me fun
Instill the American spirit in your child with a fun backyard game for all to enjoy. Use a peg board; red, white and blue balloons; and darts to create a patriotic party game. Cut the board into a 6-inch by 4-inch rectangular, flag shaped board. Fill the balloons with candy and treats. Attach the balloons to the board, either pushing through the peg hole or using tape. Make sure to keep up the stars and stripes pattern! Enjoy a dart game, with kids collecting their goodies with each balloon popped. For a fun twist, fill the balloons with water. With each pop, a splash will help you cool off from the hot July sun.
Red, white and blueberry appetizers
Easy to make and easy to serve, kebabs are the perfect party starter. Take your favorite salads and snacks and declare them holiday worthy. My favorite? Caprese salad. George Washington and his cherry tree may be a myth, but cherry tomatoes will withstand all history. Use tomatoes, mozzarella, and blueberries to kick off your dinner party on the right start.
Wooden kebab sticks
Mozzarella mini cheese balls
Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
To make: Take the kebab and attach tomatoes, mozzarella balls and blueberries in a red, white and blue pattern. Arrange on a platter and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Garnish with fresh basil.
Hamburgers and hot dogs are not the only thing that can go on a grill! Continue your barbeque through dessert, and grill up some fresh peaches for a fresh and flavorful end to your day. The hot, sweet and tangy fruit will pair perfectly with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of honey.
Peaches, nectarines, or apricots
Vanilla ice cream
To make: Cut fruit in half and throw away the pit. Brush peaches with olive oil, and place on heated grill for 3-4 minutes, or until fruit begins to caramelize. Remove from grill and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Serve immediately with a drizzle of honey and a slight sprinkle of sea salt.
Make some good food, watch some good fireworks, and enjoy a good day with family and friends. Happy Fourth of July and happy Birthday, America!