Happy Fourth of July!

A poster advertising the 1871 Fourth of July celebration in Elmore, Ohio. Courtesy of the Harris-Elmore Public Library. Via Ohio Memory.

Happy Fourth of July from the Ohio History Connection! From bands and boats, to children’s parades, Ohio sure knows how to celebrate our great independence. Take a look at some of the most festive ways that we Ohioans have celebrated our country’s birthday!

: A photograph of the Dueber Hampden Watch Company’s float in a Fourth of July parade from 1900 in Canton, Ohio. Courtesy of the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum. Via Ohio Memory.

The Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, celebrates the United States’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. On the first anniversary of the independence, the city of Philadelphia marked the occasion by setting off fireworks, ringing bells, and lighting bonfires. Hence, began the tradition of light shows, and a particular precedent for booming noises and sounds. The holiday is now traditionally celebrated with fireworks, parades, picnics, and military displays.

The holiday initially consisted of many military displays. This poster from 1871 is a look back at exactly this feature of the holiday, promoting local officers, and advertising which military exercises would be showcased during the celebrations. The early versions of the booming noises can be seen in the “salute of 100 guns” that was featured during the morning on the fourth.

A man and a woman celebrate the Fourth of July in a boat parade during the bicentennial celebration of the Fourth of July in 1976 in Lakeside, Ohio. Courtesy of the Ohio History Connection. Via Ohio Memory.

Parades quickly became a prominent tradition during the Independence Day celebrations. Ohio Memory features photographs of Fourth of July parades as early as 1900, where a large watch display can be seen during a Canton, Ohio parade. We have continued participating in parades throughout the 19th and 20th centuries as well, seen during the 1917 and 1968 parades.

A photograph of a children’s wagon parade during the 1968 Fourth of July celebrations in Hamilton, Ohio. Courtesy of the Ohio History Connection. Via Ohio Memory.

The 1976 celebration of the Fourth of July features frequently on Ohio Memory because it was the year of our bicentennial anniversary. This was the 200th anniversary of our county’s independence, and therefore the celebration was larger than ever. In the Lakeside, Ohio image, we can see that boat parades were now becoming a popular tradition, particularly with residents dressing up as popular historical figures (seen here are an imitation Betsy Ross and Declaration signer).

Overall, the Fourth of July is truly a celebratory day (and weekend) in our great state of Ohio. Whether you are hosting a backyard barbeque to watch some neighborhood fireworks, or attending a magnificent boat parade on the shores of Lake Erie, we hope you have a fun and safe weekend celebrating our great nation. Happy Independence Day!

Thank you to Katelyn Toms, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!00

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