Visit Pensacola

A long holiday weekend

Published on July 4th, 2022

If Memorial Day signifies the start of the boating season in the USA, the July 4th federal holiday confirms that summer is full on. And while we know that Independence Day is the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, since its first celebration in July 1777, what’s up with the fireworks?

To answer this question, a lot of people point to John Adams’s letter to his wife, Abigail, informing her that the Continental Congress had declared independence: “[This day] ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Pyrotechnics were already a common manner of celebration and thanksgiving, particularly to mark national triumphs and the restoration of peace, so when the United States declared its independence in 1776, John Adams was not prescribing a novel way to celebrate America’s freedom.

By heralding the birth of the world’s newest nation, the second president of the USA was invoking one of the most recognizable celebrations of nationhood of his time: fireworks.

At Scuttlebutt HQ, four barges are positioned in San Diego Bay that launch a synchronized “illuminations” show that is the largest in California and has grown to be a massive economic boost for tourism. Thank you John Adams!

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