We like our long weekends. We especially like those long weekends tied to great celebrations.
Usually they are just a Friday through Monday, but for the 4th of July, the long weekend starts Wednesday, July 4 and continues through Sunday, July 7.
So, let’s start with getting everything together for the 4th of July on the 3rd of July.
Put together a couple of picnic baskets and coolers with refreshing food — chunks of watermelon and cantaloupe, fresh berries, etc. — and beverage — freeze up some bottles of water to take along — that will keep through the day or at least the part of it you plan to be out and about. Pack a camera or two and maybe make sure there is an extra card stashed away — just in case.
Get everyone scrubbed and polished in a nice lukewarm bath or shower and then lather on the sunscreen before going to bed so it has plenty of time to soak in and do the best job it can to protect skin under the blazing sun at 5,000-plus-feet in elevation (remember the higher up we are the stronger the sun is, and if you are going to be hanging around water — like the lakes at Green Valley Park — the surface reflection intensifies the strength of the sunshine). Put on more sunscreen before going out the next morning.
You will want to get out and about early on the morning of July 4, especially if you want to enjoy a tribute to the real meaning of the holiday. At 8 a.m., Thursday, July 4, there will be a patriotic ceremony at the Veterans Memorial in Green Valley Park. The flag will be raised and there will be a recitation of the Declaration of Independence.
Hang around the park afterward, maybe have a picnic breakfast or just enjoy the beautiful setting, which will be refreshingly cool at this time of day.
The temperatures and activities start heating up in the afternoon. Games, including sack races, egg toss, a community tug-of-war and the 4th Annual Payson Arizona Foot Races are planned from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the park.
Come out around 11 a.m. or so for a picnic lunch and then work it off with some good-natured competition.
Relax and chill down and get ready for a free concert from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with Nashville Recording Artist Candyce & The Raizen Kane Band at Green Valley Park.
Fireworks over the lake are scheduled to start at 9 p.m. If you haven’t already come to the park and staked out a place for your vehicle, a shuttle will run between Green Valley Park and Payson High School starting at 5:30 p.m.
Most Rim Country residents know the parking at Green Valley is very limited, so using the shuttle is a good way to keep things easy and relaxed.
Down the Street Art Gallery at 703 W. Main St. will offer some special attractions for both Thursday, July 4 and Friday, July 5.
The gallery celebrates the Independence Day weekend with art, live music and artists demonstrations on July 4 and apple pie, good art and camaraderie on First Friday, July 5.
Tree Dave will be performing live music on the porch at the gallery from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, July 4.
More fun and food treats
The Knights of Columbus will be serving hot dogs and bratwurst in front of St. Vincent Thrift Store on Cedar and Beeline Highway from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, July 5 and Saturday, July 6. Hot dogs are $2.50 and brats are $3.50. Proceeds from the sales benefit local charities.
Continue celebrating Saturday and Sunday at the annual Fourth of July Arts and Crafts Festival in Pine at the Community Center. Or head east to join the fun at the hometown festivities in Tonto Village at noon at the Double D or in Christopher Creek, a little earlier in the day on Saturday.
The Pine Strawberry Arts & Crafts Guild will present its annual Fourth of July Arts & Crafts Festival from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, July 6 and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday July 7.
Start the day with a pancake breakfast at 7 a.m., and then wander around the Community Center grounds to enjoy the works of approximately 80 vendors. Take a break and have a taste treat with the popular Navajo taco lunch presented by the Senior Citizens Affairs Foundation.
There is no admission, but proceeds from booth rentals benefit community services in the Pine and Strawberry area.
Return to Green Valley Park in Payson for a free concert from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, July 6. Popular local performers John Carpino and The Hot Cappuccinos will be on the bandstand. Guests are invited to bring a lawn chair or blanket to the amphitheater area of Green Valley Park to enjoy music under the stars.
John Carpino and The Hot Cappuccinos describe their sound as “Classic Rock and Beyond” and promise a variety of music that includes a wonderful mix of rock, country rock, Motown and reggae and originals.
In addition to Carpino, the group includes some of the Rim Country’s finest musicians — Deak on lead guitar, Tony Menengon on drums, David Brooks on bass and Lu Carpino on keyboard, percussion and vocals.