I know some of you may find it hard to believe, but a personal financial site, WalletHub, has decided, in its wisdom, that the number one major American city in which to celebrate the Fourth of July is: Atlanta! (This according to our local fish-wrapper, which perhaps had reservations, running the story on the first page of the “Living” section, not on the A section’s front page where stories about “the ATL’s” wonderfulness usually appear.)
I’ll bet at least some of you are wondering how (in the world) the folks at WalletHub arrived at their startling conclusion. Glad you asked.
According to the article, rankings for Fourth of July celebration-worthiness were based on–ta-da!–“five key dimensions (celebrations; affordability; attractions and activities; safety and accessibility; and Fourth of July weather forecast)”; AND ALSO–ta-da!–“18 relevant metrics . . . , including legality of fireworks, number of festivals and concerts, walkability and prices of beer, hamburgers and more.”
Those of you who doubt WalletHub’s conclusion must not have been reading our paper’s run-downs of “free, family-friendly Fourth of July activities” that have occupied the front page of the “Living Section” over the past week: every town, big and small, in the Greater Atlanta Area has scheduled parades; races (including the Peachtree Road Race, Atlanta’s signature event on Independence Day for forty-eight years); barbecues; face-painting; and, of course, ubiquitous fireworks extravaganzas.
But, has the Fourth always been celebrated this way? In a word, no. The nation’s birth has been commemorated in a variety of fashions over the past 241 years while shambling towards today’s combination of “free family-friendly events” and consumerism.
To look at this process in microcosm, let’s take the state of Georgia as a case study and the years between 1787 and 1832 as the time frame. (Oh, by the way, those of you with small children should not try most of these activities at home. . . .)