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How do you celebrate the Fourth?


If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to slip into habits when it comes to holidays. Warm-weather holidays mean cookouts with classic rock in the background; cold-weather holidays mean big meals indoors, music optional. Now I’m all for celebrating with food and family, but at a certain point the holidays can seem interchangeable, so long as you don’t confuse the summer ones with the winter ones.

I wanted a different Fourth of July this year, both for me and my immediate family. Instead of visiting my brother’s house for a cookout, why not connect directly to the meaning of Independence Day? It would be educational and inspirational! With my 18-year-old son away for the week and my wife in agreement, I only needed to get my 13-year-old on board. I’ll get to the bottom line: he insisted he wasn’t going. And he wasn’t moved when I said he would always remember the walking tour of “Revolutionary New York,” but wouldn’t remember just hanging out at home (nice try, right?)

Faced with an immovable child, what should we do? We declared our own independence and went on the tour without him. Run by Big Onion Tours, the walk was fun and I learned things about Revolutionary New York that I didn’t know.

(Here’s one piece of Revolutionary lure, followed by book tip for more on Revolutionary New York: Inside City Hall Park, visible from Broadway, stands a tall flagpole that’s wrapped in a series of metal bands. What is it? A Liberty Pole, like the one that the anti-British Sons of Liberty installed on the site as a sign of defiance. After British troops repeatedly chopped the pole down, the Sons of Liberty wrapped a new one in iron for protection. For a deeper look at the Revolution in New York, check out The Battle for New York by Barnet Schecter. You may be amazed at New York’s role during the Revolution.

My son survived July Fourth. He watched a movie on DVD for the several hours we were gone. He wasn’t angry when we returned and later we told him about the tour. After dinner we went up on the roof and watched fireworks. What do you think, were we bad parents?

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 5th, 2008 at 11:36 pm by Len Maniace. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: Activities, Holidays, Parenting, Summer, Teenagers




About this blog
Parents’ Place is a hangout for openly discussing the A’s to Z’s of raising a child in the Lower Hudson Valley. From deciding when to stop using a binky to when to let your teenager take driving lessons, Parents’ Place is here to let us all vent, share, and most of all, learn from each other.
Leading the conversation are Julie Moran Alterio, a business reporter and mom of a toddler, Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, a reporter and single father with joint custody of a 9-year-old son, and Len Maniace, a reporter and father of two sons.


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About the authors
Julie Moran AlterioJulie Moran AlterioJulie Moran Alterio, her husband and baby girl — “Pumpkin” — share their Northern Westchester home with three iPods and more colorful plastic toys than seems necessary to entertain one tiny human. READ MORE
Jorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-Gibbon has been a journalist for more than 20 years and a father for nine. READ MORE
Jane LernerJane LernerJane Lerner covers health and hospitals for The Journal News in Rockland, where she lives with her husband and two children. READ MORE
Len Maniace.jpgLen ManiaceLen Maniace is a reporter and father of two sons. READ MORE