Downtown Parade July 4, 2018

The town of Blacksburg gathers around North Main Street to celebrate Independence Day, July 4, 2018.

More often than not, national holidays such as Independence Day are spent at home with friends and family. This day is filled with numerous traditions like  having backyard barbecues and watching late night firework shows together. 

However, this year, the Fourth of July falls on a Thursday — right in the middle of the week — leaving several of those with summer coursework stranded in Blacksburg and unable to go home. So, it is time to create new traditions, and there are plenty of ways to do that in the New River Valley.

For those who are stuck spending this holiday in Blacksburg, don’t miss the annual Blacksburg Fourth of July celebration. The “Caring for the Land” themed parade begins on Eheart Street at 2 p.m., and goes all the way to Alumni Mall on Main Street. 

Afterwards, head to Lyric Theatre for a free matinee showing of “Over the Hedge” at 3 p.m., sponsored by the Mount Tabor Ruritan Club. 

Around 6 p.m., head to Blacksburg Municipal Park, where several bands including the Blacksburg Community Band will be performing. It’s a good idea to bring a blanket and picnic-style dinner as well. Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m., allowing for plenty of time to stake out a good spot at the Municipal Park. As an added bonus, all of these events are completely free.

If you’re willing to travel a little farther than Blacksburg, you can drive to Christiansburg, where the Fourth of July celebration, starting at 10 a.m. on Main Street, includes a variety of food vendors,music,games and prizes and finally  a fireworks show around 10 p.m. 

Or, if you’d like to venture even farther, you can drive down to Radford’s Spirit of America celebration, which starts at 2 p.m. in Bisset Park. This event has all sorts of activities including a climbing wall and pony rides, plus multiple food and craft vendors. 

There are also several musical performances and the major act of the night is Jimmy Fortune, who is scheduled to play at 7:15 p.m. The event is sponsored by WBRF Classic Country 98.1FM and will be followed by fireworks. 

Both of these celebrations are free as well.

History buffs should head to Smithfield Plantation and honor the holiday with 18th-century reenactors as well colonial games and music. This is also completely free and begins at 10 a.m. As an added bonus, the traditional plantation tours are half-price throughout the day.

For those who don’t really want to spend the day going to large celebrations, there are a number of much more casual options for making  the most of the holiday. You can spend the day cooling off at a pool, if your apartment complex has one. Even better, bring along some friends and food, turning it into a casual barbecue-style potluck. 

If you think it’s too hot to spend the day outside, gather a group of friends together and watch a patriotic film such as “Captain America,” “American Sniper” or “Olympus Has Fallen.” You can even do this outdoors if you own a projector; just find a place to set it up, lay a blanket on the ground and voila –– you’ve created an outdoor movie theater.

Another way to casually celebrate Independence Day is to gather a large group of friends, divide into several teams and organize a field day-style event. Possible games include typical sports such as soccer and flag football, as well summer games such as water balloon tosses or water gun battles. 

Don’t be upset about being stuck in Blacksburg this Fourth of July. There are plenty of ways to celebrate America’s birthday right here in the New River Valley.

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