A nameless, screechy-voiced clerk on The Simpsons summed up Americans' feelings on how to best commemorate the Fourth of July when he said, "Celebrate the independence of your nation by blowing up a small part of it." And while playing with fireworks at home is a fun and time-honored tradition, there are also other enjoyable activities to be had. Minneapolis Red, White, and Boom will light up the riverfront at Father Hennepin Bluffs Park, St. Anthony Main, and Mill Ruins Park with a 20-minute long show, four stages of bands, and loads of family activities from Underwater Adventures and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association's Fourth of July celebration will have its own fireworks along with kids' activities. For old-timey Independence Day fun, head over to either Historic Fort Snelling or the Oliver H. Kelley Farm in Elk River. The fort offers cannon salutes and patriotic speeches; the farm's festivities include horse-drawn trolley rides and games of townball, a primitive version of baseball. The suburbs will throw kick-ass bashes, too. Canterbury Park in Shakopee is having afternoon racing (with $1 hotdogs and cheap beer) on July 3, followed by fireworks; on the Fourth, the park holds a hotdog-eating contest, racing, and a wiener dog race. Blaine's Blazin' Fourth is back for another year of family activities and a huge fireworks show held at the National Sports Center. Minneapolis Red, White, and Boom is free at 4:30 p.m. visit www.minneapolisparks.org for more information and for the best viewing spots. Canterbury Park (1100 Canterbury Rd., Shakopee; 952.445.7223) is $1-$5 for admission with events starting at 4 p.m. Thursday and 1:30 p.m. Friday. Blaine's Blazin' Fourth is at the National Sports Center (1700 105th Ave. NE, Blaine; 763.785.5600) free at 10 p.m. Oliver H. Kelley Farm (15788 Kelley Farm Rd., Elk River; 763.441.6896) is $6-$8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Historic Fort Snelling (200 Tower Ave., St. Paul; 612.726.1171) is $5-$10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thu., July 3, 4 p.m.; Fri., July 4, 1:30 p.m., 2008