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Happy Birthday, America!

The Northside Fourth of July Parade is legendary in Cincinnati. This picture is from a few years ago when I attended.

The Northside Fourth of July Parade is legendary in Cincinnati. This picture is from a few years ago when I attended.

Independence Day is my favorite holiday. It combines all of my favorite things: eating grilled food, drinking homemade Arnold Palmers, shooting off fireworks, playing with sparklers, friendly games of cornhole and wiffle ball, parades and festivals. I mean, what’s not to love?

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my family celebrates at my aunt and uncle’s house in Kentucky. I think one year we stayed in Ohio, but my uncles nearly got the police called on them when they were shooting off fireworks. I was hiding under a picnic table with my cousins.

Watermelon eating contest!

Watermelon eating contest!

Not that shenanigans in Kentucky are any better for us; people are just way more chill about explosions down here. And the cops are usually watching the (technically illegal) fireworks shows. As long as no one complains and no one gets hurt, no one gets shut down.

Of course if you’re setting off bottle rockets and roman candles on a packed neighborhood street and one of those little whirlybird fireworks go spinning down the street bouncing off cars, you may want to pack it up and go inside. (Not that anything like that has ever happened at one of my family’s parties.)

Sparklers are still one of my favorite things!

Sparklers are still one of my favorite things!

These days, so many of my aunt’s neighbor’s put on their own fireworks shows that we don’t really need to set them off. This year, we sat in the backyard craning our necks to see fireworks through the threes on four sides of us, before taking our camp chairs to the front yard to watch the big show. There’s always one neighbor who outdoes all the rest, and he didn’t disappoint this year either. By the time the sun fully set, the streets were so full of smoke it looked like a foggy morning out there.

And yes, we looked like a bunch of goofballs camped out in the front yard. We didn’t care.

Check out this year’s “Best of” compilation below.

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I’m something you don’t see every day: A person under 80 who walks around with oxygen everywhere she goes. I have Sjogren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder which, with the help of my stubborn refusal to go to the doctor, caused some pretty deep damage to my lungs. My lack of breath slowed me down for a while, but I'm back to adventuring - just with Gus, my little oxygen tank, in tow. This year's goal is to complete the 52 Hike Challenge and get myself into a healthier state of being. Join me on my quest to become oxygen free!

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