The Fourth of July always conjures up warm memories of my youth in southern Illinois. Catching fireflies in the humid night air, the smell of barbecue accompanied by my dad yelling at the dog to stay the (bleep) away from the grill, backyard grenade fights with my friends using firecrackers and dirt clogs good times.

Firecrackers are illegal in Maine, but there is no shortage of more safe (and less stupid) ways to celebrate Independence Day. In this special, expanded issue of GO, you’ll get the lowdown on everything from patriotic music set to fireworks, to family festivals followed by fireworks, to boat trips on the bay to watch the fireworks.

Did I mention there will be fireworks? We’ve got you covered in the Et Cetera section, where you will find not only info on the Eastern Prom spectacular featuring the Portland Symphony Orchestra, but a roundup of displays throughout the Greater Portland area.

But there are more ways than watching fireworks to celebrate the USA’s birthday. There’s also the inaugural Nateva Festival in Oxford, which is shaping up to be one of the best outdoor rock festivals in the Northeast, patriotic movies for your viewing pleasure, a new zip line in Wiscasset for thrill seekers, gallery openings, nightclub concerts, a classical music festival and more. We’ve even got some recipes to add some zing to your July 4 potato salad.

Like I said, we’ve got you covered.

And if you fancy a day trip, might I suggest visiting the Freedom Trail in Boston, where you can learn all about how our nation got founded in the first place. I took the walk with my family last weekend, and it’s well worth it. (Go to for information.)

But whatever you do to celebrate the Fourth, don’t forget what makes the celebration possible: the men and women who have served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces. Let’s not forget them in between bites of barbecue chicken and the colorful bursts of light overhead.

Many of them will not be here to celebrate the holiday with their families. Some of them will never return to do so again.

So celebrate our country’s independence this weekend. Have fun. Remember what it’s all about.

And stay safe — wherever you are.


Deputy Managing Editor Rod Harmon may be contacted at 791-6450 or at:

[email protected]