Oklahoma City family fun is all around us this summer.
There's so much anticipation that leads up to Independence Day. It seems everyone has plans this time of year, out for a week's vacation here or there. We're all ready for watermelon slices and ice cream cones. I hear some people speak of barbecue with a fondness all its own.
Fireworks stands dot rural roads and the smell of powder brings back childhood memories wilder than my own for a lot of parents, hushed stories repeated with key words like "Roman candles" and "cherry bombs" muffled as descriptions of mischief long past becomes family lore.
What we want to share with our children about the year's most patriotic holiday changes from house to house, family to family.
Parades are part of the tradition for some, family reunions, fireworks shows. If you're looking for a July 4 celebration, click here for MetroFamily's Independence Day Fun Guide.
Every year, my family and I go to UCO's LibertyFest for an evening we look forward to every year.
My husband isn't a U.S. citizen and the way the holiday is celebrated here, the grandeur of it, still surprises him. We've just celebrated 10 years of marriage and we've never missed the LibertyFest fireworks display. The event marks what we're doing and who we are at that point in time: newlyweds living in faculty housing, new parents fearful of taking a small baby into an area with heat and noise, the overseers of small children excited to see carnival-style rides. Some years, I've been pregnant and my husband has carried my folding chair. Three kids, two houses and a decade later, we're still here and we plan to go, as usual.
What leads up to the holiday, though, is less certain.
Seeing what's around us could be part of this next week, in the spirit of July 4. Here are three suggestions for how to make that local interest take you a little farther:
Visit downtown Oklahoma City: If you live outside OKC and don't often venture into the city, take a day and see how it has changed. Bricktown wasn't entirely unfamiliar to my family but we took our latest tour with a different way of getting there: an Oklahoma River Cruise. You can park without having to pay, get on and find out about the river's history as well as enjoy the ride into Bricktown. The cruise will pick you up and take you back to the main port area after you're done. My children enjoyed learning about river navigation, how locks and dams work and being out on the water. So much has improved in the area, it's worth taking a day to find farmers' markets and check out museums your children might not have seen yet. The latest changes to RIVERSPORT in the Boathouse District make for a fun day that could become a family sport. Walk down 23rd and check how the area has improved. Local pride abounds.
Take a road trip: The Disney-Pixar film "Cars" brought Route 66 into the spotlight for families. Click here for the Route 66 Ultimate Road Trip Guide and find MetroFamily's Exploring Oklahoma with Children series for 10 trips on a tankful.
Visit a national park: Waterfalls and outdoor hiking excursions are just some of what there is to do and see around the state. My children have never visited a national park. Part of what makes this country great is wide open outdoor spaces. I think we should take the time to explore some together, under shade trees and around water to combat the summer heat.
No matter what you do this summer, I hope you love it and have a great time. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness seem to fit with that.
Happy Independence Day!