Nothing marks the official start of summer like a Fourth of July celebration. Ours is rich in tradition, embroidered in color and surrounded by food.
The beach house is decorated in Patriotic buntings which hang from second story windows and small flags stuck into the ground line the walkway.
Blueberry pancakes topped with strawberry syrup make the perfect breakfast to kick off the festivities.
Kids and adults then assemble outside to enjoy decorating bikes, strollers and even the occasional antique car for our neighborhood parade.
Red, white and blue crepe-paper form streamers which dangle from handle bars, red and silver garland weave through bike tires as flags embellish the decor.
After a group rendition of America the Beautiful along with other Patriotic songs, the parade begins led by the neighborhood marching band. It winds down a hill and through the narrow streets allowing scenic water-views of Buzzards bay and a far off glimpse of Martha's Vineyard. At the completion of the Parade, prizes are awarded to all participants and then it is time for some old fashioned family games, including potato sack and three legged races and a water-balloon toss.
Back at the house, we then get to work preparing for our late afternoon cookout.
On the menu are old favorites like hamburgers, hot-dogs, sausages, veggie burgers, corn salad, potatoes salad, Jeans-Beans, tomato panzenella, pasta salad, Barefoot Contessa's Orzo salad, chips and sliced watermelon.
I assemble a summer sangria with floating red and blue berries, making the perfect festive refreshment, especially when served in mason jars with red and blue straws.
Baking for, and then assembling the dessert table is always my favorite part of party preparation and makes the focal point of the festivities.
I filled candy jars with red Twizzlers, patriotic colored lollipops and special edition 4th of July Tootsie Rolls.
Using a rectangular cookie cutter I made American Flag sugar cookies.
Whoopie Pies adorned with American Flag toothpicks look great when arranged on a cake plate. For another fun and festive treat, I placed Marshmallows on long skewers the dipped the top half in melted white chocolate then topped with red, white and blue sprinkles. These looked so cute standing up in a tall mason jar, then were used later that evening for roasting over a bonfire at the beach.
Vanilla cupcakes and a coconut cake are frosted in white, then decorated with red and white grosgrain ribbon.
A favorite festive dessert I also like to make every year is this Fourth if July trifle I begin by cutting Sara- Lee pound cake into one inch cubes, then arrange along the bottom of the trifle dish. I then make Jell-O Instant White Chocolate Pudding and spoon 1/3 on top of the pound cake. A layer of cut strawberries, raspberries and blueberries is placed next, then a layer of defrosted Cool Whip. The layers are repeated two more times then berries decorate the top.
As darkness falls, our crew get ready to head down to the beach, blankets and cooler in hand to watch the firework display out over the ocean. I distribute glow sticks and sparklers and everyone enjoys lighting up the night and a "dynamite" celebration.