Celebrating the Fourth in Florida

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, and folks all over the state are preparing to celebrate. Every community has its own traditions for marking the occasion, often involving grand displays of fireworks. Floridians have found lots of unique ways to celebrate Independence Day over the years, and today’s blog explores a few examples found in the Florida Photographic Collection on Florida Memory.

Fun and games have always been popular ways to ring in the Fourth. A 1900 newspaper report from Miami, for example, encouraged local citizens to come out for a public Fourth of July celebration that included horse races, bicycle races, and “funny races.” There’s no telling what kind of races they came up with, but the theme of having games and contests on the Fourth hasn’t changed much since those days.

Watermelon eating contest on the Fourth of July (1968).

Watermelon eating contest on the Fourth of July (1968).

Children participating in a sack race at a Fourth of July celebration in White Springs (1990).

Children participating in a sack race at a Fourth of July celebration in White Springs (1990).

“Miss Firecracker” rides in the pace car during the Firecracker 400 at Daytona Beach on the Fourth of July (1963).

Parades are another old standby for celebrating the Fourth. Horses, cars, themed floats, and lots of red, white, and blue have all been popular ingredients for Independence Day processions.

Crowds gather for a Fourth of July celebration near the courthouse square in Ocala (1889).

Crowds gather for a Fourth of July celebration near the courthouse square in Ocala (1889).

Fourth of July parade in Delray (1914).

Fourth of July parade in Delray (1914).

Fourth of July parade in Orlando (circa 1885).

Fourth of July parade in Orlando (circa 1885).

Picnics are always a popular way to celebrate the Fourth as well. Funny hats are optional.

A family enjoys a Fourth of July picnic at the Silver Lake Recreational Area near Tallahassee (1957).

A family enjoys a Fourth of July picnic at the Silver Lake Recreational Area near Tallahassee (1957).

How is the Fourth of July celebrated in your Florida community? Leave us a comment below or on Facebook sharing your memories of Independence Day celebrations from years past.

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One thought on “Celebrating the Fourth in Florida

  1. The first recorded July 4th observance in Tallahassee occurred in 1826. Preparations for the proposed banquet began two months earlier when Judge David B. Macomb began collecting money for that purpose (Tallahassee Florida Intelligencer May 5, 1826, page 3).
    On the 4th, the marshal of the day, Robert Boyce, fired the national salute at daybreak. Later on, town officials and citizens processed to the meeting house where Judge Woodward read the Declaration of Independence followed by the music of “Hail Columbia.” William Allison McRea gave the oration of the day. Afterwards, some 150 town folks went to the Cascade for a Barbecue. The feast consisted of one ox, one sheep, two young pigs, three dozen fowl, ten hams, and a great spread of fish and vegetables (Tallahassee Florida Intelligencer July 22, 1826).

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