Today is the actual holiday and I started thinking about the 4ths of July we had celebrated in the past. In my family it was a holiday but without a regular custom or plan. We went to the parade and probably had hot dogs but that was about it. In my husband's family it was a HOLIDAY with a specific timetable and ritual.
On the fourth we got to my in-laws by 10 AM or so to be able to park in the driveway. The chairs were already spread out along the curb since the parade went past the front of the house. There was also a step ladder so grandpa could get ariel shots of the passing floats. There were several rows of chairs and often a playpen or a stroller parked under a shade tree. The menu was a constant: Sloppy Joes, Potato Salad, Rice Salad, Chips, Baked Beans. Soda and beer was icy cold and in abundance thanks to Grandpa's basement refrigerator. Since the parade usually lasted about 2 hrs, food was an ongoing buffet. After the parade there were hot dogs and burgers on the grill.
About 7 PM everyone would begin the 3 block trek to the park for the fireworks. Armed with blankets, radios, coolers and kids we would set up on the park lawn at the edge of the lake and await the oohs and ahhs. When the fireworks ended the masses would leave the park moving down the streets carrying sleeping children. Back at the house the children went to sleep while the adults played cards until about midnight.
This holiday was observed in the same way every year until the mid 1980s when my in-laws sold their house and moved to Florida.