Firework-free Festivities For the Fourth

By Michael Berick

July Fourth

Meet our nation’s founding fathers at the International Printing Museum. PHOTO BY JIM WHOBREY

The Fourth of July and fireworks are just about as synonymous as you can get. Look up that night and you can’t miss the sparkle. But what if you are looking to celebrate the holiday without the fireworks? Here are a few events where the fun isn’t fueled by pyrotechnics.

Independence In Print

It’s not every day that you have the chance to meet Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, but on July 2 you can. The annual Independence Day celebration at the International Printing Museum (315 W. Torrance Blvd., Carson; takes place from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and offers a unique way to celebrate the holiday. Franklin, Jefferson and Adams, known as the “Confounding Brothers,” will perform a historical theater presentation designed for ages 10 and up at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. (reservations recommended). Visitors also can print their own Declaration on a colonial press (and you might want to bring along a blank t-shirt), and enjoy an all-American meal of Freedom Dogs and American Apple Pie in Madame Brillon’s French Garden de Liberte. Admission is $15 per person, $50 for a family of four.

Two-Wheeled Freedom

The Great American Kids’ Bike Parade ( will set out at 10 a.m. July 4 and proceed along Belmont Shore Beach’s Granada Avenue Bike Path in Long Beach. Children can get creative decking out their bicycles for this patriotic promenade. The holiday merriment also includes a costume competition and a watermelon-seed spitting contest. New this year are a 5K run/walk at 8:30 a.m. and a kids half-mile run at 9:15 a.m., so you can work up an appetite for an afternoon barbecue. Bike parade participation is free, but the run/walks cost $20 for adults and $10 for kids. Register at

Parading Like Patriots

Other parades go the traditional on-foot route. The Pacific Palisades Fourth Of July Parade ( along Sunset Boulevard between Via de la Paz and Drummond Street has been a local mainstay for more than 60 years. The parade blends small-town charm with some L.A. spectacle – it kicks off at 2 p.m. with skydivers! And if you want to stick around until evening, you can enjoy a concert at 6:30 p.m. and, yes, fireworks at 9 p.m. The Fourth of July Parade stepping off at 11 a.m. on Loyola Boulevard between Westchester Park and Loyola Marymount University might not have been around as long as the one in the Palisades, but it has a real sense of tradition and community. The floats, bands and patriotic participants will be saluting Westchester’s 75th anniversary this year, and you can learn more at

Pre-show Parties

The Rose Bowl’s AmericaFest, Redondo Beach’s Seaside Lagoon and the Queen Mary’s All-American 4th of July host holiday festivals before their big fireworks shows. One of the best deals is the free holiday block party thrown by Grand Park and the Music Center (200 N. Grand Ave., L.A.; from 3-9:30 p.m. Activities will be happening throughout the park, and, for the first time, at Music Center Plaza. You can enjoy a multicultural lineup of acts performing on several stages. There will be more than 25 food vendors to check out, and kids ages 4-14 can have fun in a designated area stocked with games. The family might be worn out before the pyrotechnic display.

Picnic Time With Bunnies

If you want a more tranquil way to spend your July 4th, high-tail it over to Pasadena’s Bunny Museum (1933 Jefferson Dr., Pasadena; for its Independence Day open house. Besides immersing yourself in the museum’s unbelievable collection of bunny memorabilia, you can also bring some carrots and other veggies to feed to the real rabbits. Admission is $5; free for ages 3 and younger.

These events are fun ways to get ready for the fireworks, or just to enjoy some red, white and blue without the boom, boom, boom.

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