It's America's birthday! Celebrate the Declaration of Independence on Monday, July 4, with feasting, fireworks, parades and more.
How will you spend the holiday? A few local ideas are listed below:
More than $2,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded during Palo Alto's 35th Annual Chili Cook-off and Summer Festival this Fourth of July. Every year, teams of families, friends and co-workers compete with their most delicious chili recipes to win awards such as People's Choice, Best Spirit and Best Decorated Booth. Guests who wish to partake by eating instead of cooking can do so for $5. If chili isn't your preference, the festival has food trucks and booths serving everything from barbecue to Thai cuisine. Alcoholic beverages and frozen desserts will also be available for purchase to cool down guests. The festival (noon-5 p.m.) includes face painting, inflatable bounce houses, games and live music by the "upscale corporate dance band," Radio City All-Stars. Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive, Palo Alto. Go to Chili Cookoff.
Transition Palo Alto, a community group dedicated to fostering creative solutions to global issues, is holding an 'Interdependence Day' potluck picnic, followed by a walk or bike ride to the Baylands to watch the Shoreline fireworks. The event, which starts at 6 p.m., will celebrate the nation's birthday and the interdependence inherent to a thriving community. Participants are invited to bring food to share, as well as their own dishes, cups and utensils. Meet in the Acterra parking lot, 3921 East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto. Go to Transition Palo Alto
The annual Greenmeadow neighborhood Fourth of July parade, featuring homemade floats, costumed marchers, dressed-up pets and a ragtag band, this year has the theme of "African Safari" (see full story at paloaltoonline.com). Parade is open to the public and begins at 11 a.m. near 303 Parkside Drive.
Menlo Park's annual Fourth of July Parade & Celebration returns this year with its usual selection of fun-filled family activities. In addition to the bike-trike-and-wagon parade down Santa Cruz Avenue at 11:45 a.m, the event will feature a festival in Burgess Park (at Alma Street and Burgess Avenue) featuring live music, games, crafts, laser tag and rock-climbing walls. Food will be provided by community vendors and food trucks from Off the Grid. Admission to the event (which goes until 2:30 p.m.) is free but some activities require a wristband, which can be purchased for $7 at Arrillaga Gymnasium, or at 600 Alma St., Menlo Park. Burgess Park, 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park. Go to Menlo Park Events
The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra returns to Mountain View's Shoreline Amphitheatre for a performance accompanied by a fireworks show (prices vary by seating area). This year's program, which begins at 8 p.m., features music from "Star Wars," "Harry Potter" and more. Shoreline Ampitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View. Go to SF Symphony
Boathouse & American Bistro at Shoreline Lake is offering patrons a unique way to view the evening's fireworks. Though boats are not typically allowed on the lake after sunset, the Fourth of July holiday is an exception to the rule, and patrons can rent pedal boats ($75), rowboats ($75) and kayaks ($40 for single, $50 for double), allowing patrons to watch the display from the water. A wine-and-cheese-and-boat deal is also available for $125, plus a variety of picnic basket options, and $15 all-access day per-person passes for boats are offered (kids 2-4 ride free). Day rentals must be returned by 8:30 p.m. 3160 North Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View. Go to Shoreline Lake
The Los Altos Community Foundation will hold the 15th annual Glorious Fourth at Shoup Park, from 10:30 to 2 p.m. The free festival will feature live music, face painting, a bounce house, refreshments, games and more. Shoup Park, 400 University Ave., Los Altos. Go to Los Altos Events
Los Altos Hills
The 8th annual Los Altos Hills 4th of July Parade, which welcomes walkers, strollers, scooters, skateboarders and cyclists of all types (no fossil-fueled vehicles or horses allowed) will start with a gathering at the town hall at 9:30 a.m., then a 10 a.m. march down Fremont Road, ending at Gardner Bullis School with refreshing beverages and watermelon for all. 26379 Fremont Road, Los Altos Hills. Go to Los Altos Hills
Ah, Redwood City. The land of "Climate Best by Government Test" also takes pride in doing Fourth of July in a big way, holding the 78th annual 4th of July Parade, with a whole slew of participants including Miss California, Peninsula Roller Girls and many more. Sponsored by the Peninsula Celebration Association since 1939, the parade (the largest in Northern California) winds its way along a 1.3-mile route through downtown starting at 10 a.m. and has the theme of "The Best of the West."
For early birds in search of exercise, the family-friendly 5K Parade Run kicks off at 8:45 a.m., with proceeds benefiting Redwood City school music programs (registration and route online).
Not a runner? The Redwood City Fire Department is hosting a pancake breakfast at the Marshall Street fire station from 7:30-10:30 a.m., benefiting the Redwood City Firefighters Association.
Downtown Redwood City is also home to an annual Independence Day Festival (from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), featuring a classic car show, a 1 p.m. battle between the Stanford University and UC Davis marching bands, food, vendors and a fun zone for kids, while the annual 4th of July carnival, coordinated by the Woodside Terrace Kiwanis Club, will be in the parking lot at Veterans Boulevard and Winslow Street (noon-10 p.m.).
This year, Courthouse Square will also host the Chalk Full of Fun chalk-art festival (from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and the San Mateo County History Museum will offer half-price admission and a day of old-fashioned activities such as vintage-film viewing, hand-cranked ice-cream making, traditional crafts and more.
Top it all off with a concert by The Megatones (7-9:15 p.m.) and the grand finale: Fireworks launched at 9:30 p.m. from the Port of Redwood City. Downtown and Port of Redwood City (see online for more details). Go to Parade; Redwood City Events; San Mateo County History Museum
For a quintessentially western Fourth of July, check out the Junior Rodeo in Woodside, where young cowboys and cowgirls will be showing off their skills. A long-standing tradition put on by the Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County, the event features roping, barrel racing and bull riding. The old-time fun starts at 10 a.m. Mounted Patrol Grounds, 521 Kings Mountain Road, Woodside. Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County
Want to know the secrets behind the fireworks show at Shoreline Amphitheatre? Check for an interview with Dan Nitzan, who has planned and executed the fireworks at Shoreline for more than 30 years, on the Weekly's webcast, "Behind the Headlines." It will be posted on Palo Alto Online and YouTube.