Although the resounding boom and magical sparkle of fireworks have become a standard in almost every 4th of July celebration, the pyrotechnics aren’t exactly safe. For centuries, misused fireworks have burned down homes and sometimes even cities. Unintentional explosions have caused injury. And the noise pollution caused by the colorful displays has sent countless children and pets into their safest hiding places.
Common chemicals found in the fireworks, such as potassium perchlorate and barium nitrate, pose a serious health risk and an environmental hazard. In 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that after a big fireworks display, chemical levels in the air and water spiked to 1,000 times the normal level.
Forgo the traditional fireworks display this year and opt for one of these safe, eco-friendly alternatives.
- Laser show
Avoiding fireworks doesn’t mean you have to skip out on dazzling lights. Instead, head to a laser show. Although a little electricity is expended during the show, it’s still an Earth-friendly option. The lights can be used time and time again whereas fireworks can only be used once.Not sure where to go? Here are our top laser light show picks:
- The Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision® — This Atlanta attraction promises an awe-inspiring laser show with state-of-the-art graphics. Snuggle up on a blanket near the 825-foot mountainside and take in the light show, set to popular music. Make sure you carpool — attending the event is free, but you will have to pay a $10 parking fee. The laser show will run all summer, so don’t fret if you can’t make it to the 4th of July festivities.
- City of Sedona Laser Light Show — Sedona, Arizona, is an ideal summer vacation spot for outdoor enthusiasts. The picturesque town sits at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon and is surrounded by the Coconino National Forest. While you’re there, make sure you take in the free laser light show on July 4. The patriotic-themed show starts at dark, but head over a few hours early to hear live music and indulge in some delicious food.
- The Carnegie Science Center’s Spirit of America Laser Show — Take a trip to Pittsburgh and visit the Carnegie Science Center for four floors of interactive exhibits, a planetarium and a walk-in replica of the International Space Station. Don’t forget to check out the patriotic laser show running from June 14 to July 11.
- Take in some live music
If you crave the entertainment value that comes with a fireworks display, live music is a great substitute. There will be live bands playing special shows for the Fourth in cities all across the nation. During the first week of July head to Summerfest in Milwaukee to catch more than 1,000 performances from some of the most popular artists in multiple genres, including Ludacris, Lady Gaga, Brad Paisley and Fitz and the Tantrums.If you’d rather avoid a huge crowd, take a trip to Bristol, Rhode Island. This historic waterfront town has had big Independence Day celebrations since 1785. This year, one of the town’s many activities will include a concert series with a range of music to suite everyone.Thrill seekers can head to the nearest Six Flags theme park to celebrate the Fourth this year. In addition to winding coasters and refreshing water parks, you can check out live music throughout the park on July 4, 5 and 6.
- Participate in a parade
Show your patriotic spirit by participating in a parade in your hometown. In lieu of booming fireworks, you’ll experience the rhythmic bang of drums. Instead of flashing lights, you’ll see sparkly floats and costumes. Don’t want to be part of a parade? Enjoying being a bystander at one of these exciting events:
- Take an educational trip to Washington, D.C. and view the National Independence Day Parade. Immerse yourself in the excitement as you watch specially invited bands, giant balloons, horses, floats, celebrities and dignitaries walk by.
- On the West coast, venture to Alameda, California, for the country’s longest parade. The city’s three-mile parade route with 170 floats and 2,500 participants attracts more than 20,000 people every year.
- Be a part of history as Springfield Center, New York, celebrates its 100th annual4th of July parade. Show your star-spangled pride as you cheer on the classic Independence Day event and admire the military, horses and floats that march by.
- Host your own party
You don’t need the boom of fireworks to have a blast this Independence Day. Host your own party and avoid all the pollution. Try these festive tips to add a little sparkle to your night.
- Fireworks certainly add ambiance to a warm July night, but you can get a similar effect with a campfire. Build a small fire in your backyard if you can do so safely. If you’re feeling adventurous, you might try building this DIY fire pit.
- Keep children entertained by having them make their own noisemakers. We love this firecracker noisemaker idea from Mom Endeavors.
- Swirling and twirling glow sticks can be just as beautiful as fireworks and they keep you away from all the chemicals caused by an explosion. Head to Party City to pick up your supplies. It carries a range of glow stick options in different sizes and colors.
Photo credit: stonemountainpark.com