July 4

Flying for the 4th? Pack Patience.

Given the promise of packed airports and airplanes and all the cancelations and delays this past week due to weather and a host of other issues (see: finger-pointing, below), a hot air balloon may be a better way to get where you need to be this holiday weekend. Or maybe space ship.

Finger-pointing: Who’s to blame if you’re stuck at the airport?

The finger-pointing regarding who and what is to blame for travel disruptions that started last weekend and are building to this holiday weekend’s meltdown is already well underway.

In this Wall Street Journal article – and elsewhere – we learn that while the Federal Aviation Administration is blaming this past week’s issues on thunderstorms,” airlines, most notably United Airlines President Scott Kirby and other groups are pinning the problem on the FAA.

“I’m … frustrated that the FAA frankly failed us this weekend,” Kirby told company employees in a memo earlier this week, according to Reuters, “We estimate that over 150,000 customers on United alone were impacted this weekend because of FAA staffing issues and their ability to manage traffic.”

Tips for flying over the 4th of July Weekend

(Courtesy Joel Ross – Room 28)

There are lots of tips out there for making travel smoother this weekend. And for what to do if you end up stuck at the airport. But if you really want to or need to be somewhere and your flights are canceled (repeatedly) or delayed (repeatedly), very little is going to make you feel better about a ruined holiday weekend.

At StuckatTheAirport.com, our evergreen advice is always to pack light/don’t check a bag; bring real food & snacks, non-electronic reading material, and a multi-plug extension cord (you will make friends); and tuck some cash in your wallet to use as ‘mad money’ in case you get stuck at the airport and need a drink, a decadent ice-cream, or a new piece of jewelry.

Whatever happens, don’t be THAT passenger

5 wacky ways to celebrate the 4th of July

No need to settle for the traditional barbecue or parade this July 4th holiday weekend.
Head instead to one of these towns showing off an offbeat and independent patriotic spirit.


World’s Largest Cherry Pie served in George, Washington. Courtesy Debby Kooy

In George, Washington, the celebration includes baking the world’s largest cherry pie. “They used to pick the cherries, pit the cherries, make the filling and bake the pie in a special 8 by 8 foot pan in a giant wood-fired stove over in the park,” said Debby Kooy, 58, part of a local service group called the Georgettes that bakes the treat annually. “That lasted until the year they served burnt cherry pie.”

Now they use ovens at a nearby high school, assembling what Kooy calls “more of a giant cherry crumble,” scooped out free on July 4th to about 2000 hungry fans.

Tortoise pet parade

Courtesy Nick Parvas, AVAM

Meanwhile, just off Federal Hill Park in Baltimore, Md., instead of baton twirlers and fire trucks, they celebrate with a pet parade and animal talent show. A regular favorite is Brutus the Tortoise, “who always carries some sort of wild, patriotic contraption on his shell,” said Nick Prevas, spokesman for the American Visionary Art Museum, which hosts the event.

Participants have also included the usual dogs and cats, but also cows, an alpaca, a cicada circus and “imaginary pets,” said Prevas.

“There’s always someone with one of those ‘ghost dog’ leashes and one year someone carried a can that made meowing sounds,” he said.

Gatlinburg Parade - Betsy Ross copy

The prize for “first” 4th of July parade goes to Gatlinburg, Tenn, which begins at midnight. The early start doesn’t scare away attendees. The town says it expects 100,000 to attend, with some staking out their positions beside the route with lawn chairs as early as 7 a.m. on July 3rd. Later, the celebrations continue with an unmanned river raft regatta.

For other cities, Independence Day isn’t just about bringing 1776 back to life. Orlando’s Celebration Town Center, within the orbit of nearby Disney World, hosts a “Sci-Fi” 4th of July, with an appropriately themed costume contest. During the fireworks display, the rockets released into the air are synchronized to soundtracks from science fiction movies and television shows.

Mount Vernon fireworks daytime

In a nod to modernity, “George Washington” sends word via email from his historic estate in Mount Vernon, Va, that he’s “awaiting many guests to my home on this festive day.” On the grounds of where the first President lived, tourists can watch as the re-enactor “inspects the troops,” played by a group of Revolutionary War re-enactors.

Then, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services will swear in 100 new U.S. citizens. Following the ceremony are daytime fireworks and birthday cake.