The distressed American flag.
The distressed American flag.
Miles Chrisinger

Ten Things to Do for the Fourth of July in Denver

Our nation's birthday is rapidly approaching, and I think I speak for all Americans when I say we the people deserve — nay, demand — an executive order mandating two full days off for every national holiday. Surely that's the crucial issue of 2018, one we can all unite around regardless of color, creed or party affiliation. So get yourself a suitcase of Coors Light, slap a pair of noise-canceling headphones on the dog and get ready to compose an indignant Nextdoor post about the DIY pyrotechnic show going on down the street. It's the Fourth of July! Here are ten ways to celebrate our nation and make Independence Day great again.

Fireworks will cap off a full day of fun in Northglenn.EXPAND
Fireworks will cap off a full day of fun in Northglenn.
Flickr/Erik Drost

July 4th Car Show and Festival
7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

E.B. Rains Jr. Memorial Park, Northglenn
Denver's northern neighbor has something to prove this holiday: Even though it's a suburb, Northglenn still knows how to party. The proof is in the jam-packed agenda: The day starts off at the crack of dawn with a pancake breakfast at 7 a.m., followed by a four-mile race; a bake sale (you can never consume too many carbs); a car show; a bike and pet parade; a beer garden; a rubber-duck race on the water; a military recognition ceremony; and bands, bands and more bands. Whew. If you haven't succumbed to sheer exhaustion by the end of the day, you'll be rewarded with a fireworks show. Think of it as a ’Murica marathon: The longer you can make it, the more patriotic you are.

If this is what you land at the Fishing Derby, you definitely want to hang around for the barbecue lunch.EXPAND
If this is what you land at the Fishing Derby, you definitely want to hang around for the barbecue lunch.
Courtesy Westminster Fire Department Facebook

July 4th Fishing Derby
8 to 11 a.m.

City Park Lake, Westminster
The Fourth of July means grilling (it's in the Constitution). If you want to cook out but are tired of the same old burgers and wieners — and you have access to a child under sixteen — rise and shine for the Westminster Fire Department's yearly fishing competition, where you can also reel in lunch. Show up with gear and bait, and your little one can angle for a shot at prizes, including biggest fish and first fish caught. And if you don't want to barbecue your brown trout, stick around after the derby for a cookout of the more traditional variety, put on by the smokin' folks of the Westy FD.

Outrun partisanship at Wash Park on the Fourth.EXPAND
Outrun partisanship at Wash Park on the Fourth.

Liberty Run Four Mile Run/Walk
8:30 a.m.

Washington Park
If the thought of sitting on scratchy grass getting chewed on by chiggers while waiting (endlessly) for fireworks to start makes you want to run for the hills, then lace up your sneakers. The Liberty Run promises a way to celebrate without Lee Greenwood or fireworks. Registration for adults is $40 online through July 2 ($45 on race day), but children eight and under can sprint for free in the 100-meter fun run. Even if you're not participating yourself, go for the sheer goofiness of watching competitive race-walkers and runners in costume. The event benefits the Denver Fire Department Foundation, which supports the men and women who will spend their Fourth of July evening watching the fireworks from the worst seat in the house.

Fiesta Colorado Dance Company will perform with the Denver Brass at this year's Evergreen Music Festival.EXPAND
Fiesta Colorado Dance Company will perform with the Denver Brass at this year's Evergreen Music Festival.
Courtesy Evergreen Music Festival Facebook

Evergreen Music Festival
10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m
Buchanan Park, Evergreen

The unfortunate occurrence of the Fourth of July on a Wednesday leaves Americans who want to get the hell out of Dodge in a bit of a pickle (tangentially, the history of the five-day work week is fascinating, with many forces to blame for the creation of the endless Monday through Friday stretch; read about it here). But music fans can still leave the concrete jungle behind by heading to the hills for the day. Entry to the Evergreen Music Festival is $10 (veterans, active military and children under thirteen get in free), and the day promises a wide variety of styles, from marching bands strutting their stuff to classical to Americana to jazz. And since you probably can't take time off to make it to Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, you can enjoy the local version here.

Ralphie is badass: He runs toward fireworks, not away from them.
Ralphie is badass: He runs toward fireworks, not away from them.
smoddelm at Flickr

4th on Pearl and Ralphie's Independence Day Blast
Noon to 8 p.m.
Pearl Street Mall, Boulder

8 p.m.
Folsom Field, Boulder
We know it's hard to believe, but it's true: The People's Republic of Boulder actually celebrates American Independence Day — and in style! The day kicks off when the beer garden on the 1300 block of Pearl Street opens for business, followed by live music from Many Mountains, Sonic Arcade and the Hazel Miller Band. Then catch the free bus to Folsom Field for jams from School of Rock and Funkiphino, as well as a fireworks display over the stadium. We hope Ralphie is ready to party.

Darth Vader loves America.EXPAND
Darth Vader loves America.
Evan Semon

Park Hill 4th of July Parade
1:30 p.m.

23rd Avenue between Dexter and Krameria streets
For a true neighborhood celebration, look no farther than northeast Denver, where patriotism, parades and cosplay combine to create a truly quirky little processional down 23rd Avenue. Floats, marching bands and classic cars will be stepping off from 23rd Avenue and Dexter Street, accompanied by a slew of costumed (and probably very sweaty) celebrants. Previous parade participants have included Darth Vader and retinue, Captain America, Tinkerbell, T-Rex, and even a goat or two. So don your best gear and don't be shy; if the Galactic Empire is welcome at our nation's birthday bash, there's no doubt you will be, too.

John Popper: The Energizer Bunny of Red Rocks.
John Popper: The Energizer Bunny of Red Rocks.
Miles Chrisinger

Blues Traveler
5 p.m.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison

Yes, it's inevitable; yes, it's a cliché. But in a shocking twist of the legislative process, it's also the law that any list of July Fourth events in the Centennial State must include Blues Traveler's annual Red Rocks show. So here we are, fulfilling our statutory and civic duty to revelers around Colorado. This year's lineup includes G. Love & Special Sauce, the Wailers and the Devon Allman Project; tickets start at $39.95 and are still available.

Lakewood's Big Boom Bash promises to be great for families with sleeping infants.EXPAND
Lakewood's Big Boom Bash promises to be great for families with sleeping infants.
Flickr/Andy Karmy

Big Boom Bash
5:30 p.m.
Jeffco Stadium, Lakewood

Lakewood is upping the ante on its Fourth of July celebration this year by going bigger and better at the Big Boom Bash. Start off the night with bands in the beer garden, plus lawn games and art projects for the kids. After a community reading of the Declaration of Independence at 7 p.m. (better start practicing now to make sure you can say "unalienable" without embarrassing yourself), the stadium field will be open for picnickers and spectators to settle in before the fireworks. Entry is free, beer is not (sadly, we still have a long way to go as a country).

4th of July Spectacular
6 p.m.

Aurora Municipal Center, Aurora
The Aurora Municipal Center's expansive lawn is the perfect place in the southern suburbs to position yourself for a pyrotechnics show. If you get there early enough, there are even a few trees to shade you from the early-evening glare. But even if you find yourself basking in the sun like a lizard on a rock, you'll enjoy the spread, with bands Narrow Gauge and Syndicate taking the stage before fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m., as well as bites and booze available for purchase.

Take advantage of the Denver Outlaws' relative obscurity to take in a fun game and great fireworks.EXPAND
Take advantage of the Denver Outlaws' relative obscurity to take in a fun game and great fireworks.

Denver Outlaws
7 p.m.

Mile High Stadium
Most Americans don't know much about lacrosse; sticks, nets and Native Americans are the extent of our knowledge. That makes the Denver Outlaws' Fourth of July match against the Boston Cannons one of the better holiday deals in town. Tickets start at just $15, and you'll get a fast-paced professional sporting event; the Outlaws scored a whopping seventeen goals in their last match, which is why we're recommending this game over the Rockies' holiday faceoff, which is staid and sluggish by comparison. A fireworks show is scheduled after the game, so you won't miss out on any summer fun — balls, beers or bottle rockets.

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