The last time any of us gave much thought to what we’re celebrating was probably many years ago, and we probably had a test on it. Here’s a refresher (with zero pop quizzes) so you can remember exactly what all the excitement is about.

The History of Independence Day

July 4, 1776 - the day the delegates of the Continental Congress voted to approve the Declaration of Independence, written primarily by Thomas Jefferson. This declaration was put together by a five-person committee including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. Do those names sound familiar? This was our country’s formal statement that we would be independent of Great Britain and the monarchy of the time. 

July 4 gets all the credit, but the work began much earlier. The Revolutionary War with Great Britain began in 1775. At the time, although colonists were unhappy with England, they weren’t ready for independence. In fact, anyone advocating for independence was considered a radical. By the middle of 1776, opinions had changed, and when the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in June, they were ready for a change. 

We’ve Been Celebrating Ever Since

The obvious importance of July 4 has never been ignored by our country. Even in the middle of the Revolutionary War, we found ways to celebrate. In 1778, George Washington made sure his soldiers were given double rations of rum to mark the occasion, making at least a few people happy that day.

By 1870, July 4th was recognized as a federal holiday for the country. It wasn’t until 1941 that people started getting paid for the day off, beginning with federal employees. Since the beginning, we’ve been making the most of the day to show our patriotism and have a good time.

Where You Can Celebrate in Tampa Bay

Now that we’re all feeling a little more patriotic, it’s time to celebrate our independence for the 240th time. Take your pick of any of these events around the Tampa Bay area.

Tampa Red White and Blue Fest
Sunday, July 3 at Cotanchobee Park

4th of July Fireworks Event
Monday, July 4 at The Florida Aquarium

Lowry Park Zoo 4th of July Military Appreciation
Monday, July 4 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

2016 Brandon 4th of July Parade
Monday, July 4 at Lumsden Road & Parsons Avenue
Begins at 10:00 a.m.

4th of July in Downtown St. Pete
Monday, July 4 at the Museum of Fine Arts

4th of July Family FunFest
Monday, July 4 at the American Victory Ship Mariners Memorial Museum

Clearwater Celebrates America
Monday, July 4 at Coachman Park

Want more event info? Take a look at the full list over at the Bay News 9 website.

Happy Independence Day!