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10 things you probably don’t know about the Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July from the staff here at the Winchester News! COURTESY PHOTO/WALLPAPERS.COM

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For most people, the Fourth of July is about barbecues, fireworks and enjoying the warm summertime weather. But here are 10 things, we bet you didn’t know about the holiday!

John Trumbull’s painting, Declaration of Independence, depicting the five-man drafting committee of the Declaration of Independence presenting their work to the Congress. The original hangs in the U.S. Capitolrotunda. It does not represent a real ceremony; the characters portrayed were never in the same room at the same time. COURTESY PHOTO/WIKIPEDIA

1) July 4 is not the actual date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Second Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia on July 2, 1776, where delegates from 12 colonies voted in favor of declaring independence, with New York abstaining.

The process of debating and revision continued into the late morning of July 4. On the evening of July 4, the Second Continental Congress unanimously voted to approve the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.

The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pa. COURTESY PHOTO/ISTOCK

2) The Liberty Bell rings 13 times every July 4 to honor the 13 original states. Descendants of people who signed the Declaration of Independence tap the bell, located in Philadelphia, Pa., at 2 p.m. eastern time.

The official portrait of John Adams, the second president of the United States, by Gilbert Stuart. COURTESY PHOTO/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

3) Three presidents have died on July 4: John Adams, 90, and Thomas Jefferson, 82, both died five hours of each other on July 4, 1826 – the 50th anniversary of the original approval of the Declaration of Independence. James Monroe died July 4, 1831.

On Dec. 6, 1923 a presidential address was broadcast on a radio network for the first time as President Coolidge spoke to a joint session of Congress. The speech was heard by about half of the nation. Coolidge is the only president, so far, born on July 4. COURTESY PHOTO/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

4) Only one president has been born on the Fourth of July. Calvin Coolidge was born July 4, 1872, in Plymouth, Vt., and went on to become president in 1923.

President John Adams predicted fireworks would be a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July. And he was right! WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/LAURA SPENCER

5) Fireworks date back as a tradition of Independence Day as early as the first anniversary in 1777.

John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, that he wanted Independence Day to be celebrated with pomp, parade, shows, and "Illuminations." This original letter was written when Adams presumed that Independence Day would be celebrated on July 2.

The official portrait of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, by Rembrandt Peale in 1800. COURTESY PHOTO/WIKIPEDIA

6) Thomas Jefferson is the first president who celebrated the Fourth of July at the White House in 1801. Jefferson opened the house and greeted diplomats, civil and military officers, citizens, and Cherokee chiefs in the center of the oval saloon (the current Blue Room).

The Marine Band played in the Entrance Hall while on the north grounds a festival took place —  complete with horse races, parades, and food and drink.

Crowd of people listens to Henry Ward Beecher speaking from the stage during a Fourth of July celebration in Woodstock, Conn., as President Ulysses S. Grant and others sit behind him. The illustration by artist C.S. Reinhart appeared in Harper’s weekly on July 23, 1870. COURTESY PHOTO/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

7) The Fourth of July didn’t become a federal holiday until 1870. For the first 15 or 20 years after the Declaration was written, people didn’t celebrate it much on any date.

Celebrations of the Fourth of July became more common as the years went on and in 1870, almost 100 years after the Declaration was written, Congress first declared July 4 to be a national holiday as part of a bill to officially recognize several holidays, including Christmas.

Further legislation about national holidays, including July 4, was passed in 1939 and 1941.

Although the holiday wasn’t an official national holiday until 1870, Massachusetts has recognized the holiday since 1781. Several months before America won the Revolutionary War, Massachusetts declared the Fourth of July an official state holiday.

Americans will eat about 150 million hot dogs this Fourth of July holiday. COURTESY PHOTO/THE BAKER MAMA

8) The Fourth of July isn’t just about fireworks. Americans love to celebrate with food and drinks. Did you know Americans will likely eat about 150 million hot dogs this year? Americans also make a toast or two to freedom and good old Uncle Sam, shelling out $4 billion on July Fourth for beer and wine.

Massachusetts is the most expensive state to get ingredients for a 10-person BBQ at $127

A Winchester resident captures fireworks during Town Day. WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/LISA SPENCER

 9) Americans spend over $1 billion on fireworks every year. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, the numbers continue to go up every year. The biggest celebration is the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks show, which takes over 8,000 hours to prepare.

The Fourth of July parade in Bristol, R.I. is the oldest running in the United States. The 231st is shown here. This year, will mark the 239th annual parade. COURTESY PHOTO/WIKIPEDIA

10) The oldest continuously running Fourth of July parade is in Bristol, R.I., which this year celebrates its 239th anniversary.

The Bristol Fourth of July Celebration began in 1785 when Rev. Henry Wight of the First Congregational Church and a Veteran of the Revolutionary War conducted the first patriotic exercises. The parade is believed to have begun in the early 1800’s.

The celebration officially starts on June 14 and concludes with the 2.5-mile military, civic and firemen’s parade on July 4. Throughout the period following a Flag Day Ceremony, numerous events are scheduled, including a concert series at Independence Park, fireworks, a Firefighters Muster and a Fourth of July Ball as well as many other events.

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