Melanie Christensen, contributing writer

Independence Day stands out in July as the pivotal celebration of summer, of community and of freedom. It’s a day you can shamelessly stuff yourself with grilled hot dogs, kettle corn, expensive fireworks and frilly red, white and blue skirts. Listed from earliest in the morning to latest in the evening, here are a handful of activities you can add to your family’s Fourth of July celebration.

1. Eat lots of breakfast. Waking up early for parades and 5k races is no reason to skip breakfast. For a small fee that will help a charity, you can find a delicious community breakfast in most cities. Pick up breakfast from the Rotary Club in Ashton or from Search & Rescue in Malad. If holidays are your excuse to cheat on your diet, go to both.

2. Go to a parade. Nothing brings a community together quite like a parade. Pull your kids out of bed early and go see the one of the parades in Southeast Idaho. There’s one in Blackfoot, Pocatello, Rexburg, Malad and Soda Springs. Don’t forget to bring a bag for collecting candy!

3. Browse local vendors. Artists, business representatives, farmers and lemonade craftsmen alike gather on Independence Day to sell their wares. There are vendor fairs in Ashton, Blackfoot, Idaho Falls and more. Find one near you so you can buy some yummy treats and support community arts.

4. Get active. Join an organized 5K or fun run in Malad, Rexburg, Soda Springs or elsewhere. Swim for free in the Blackfoot swimming pool, or take your fishing poles to Jensen Grove for free fishing day the week of July 4. Join a basketball tournament or a volleyball tournament in Pocatello.

5. Go to a community celebration. Every city has a unique way of celebrating freedom. Go to a carnival in Soda Springs. Watch a Chukars baseball game in Idaho Falls, attend a rodeo in Blackfoot, or see a car show in Ashton. There are too many activities to list. How does your city celebrate the holiday?

6. Listen to music. In addition to listening to free music that’s often sponsored at vendor fairs, many cities, like Soda Springs, Malad and Driggs, put concerts together.

7. Watch fireworks. There’s no better reason to be out past bedtime than watching fireworks, and most cities have free shows to end their Independence Day celebrations. Lay out a blanket in Ashton, Blackfoot, Driggs, Idaho Falls, Lava Hot Springs, Malad, Pocatello, Rigby or Soda Springs to watch a show with friends and neighbors. If you don’t want to fight the crowds, light fireworks at home, go on a walk around the neighborhood to watch other people’s fireworks, or simply sit on your rooftop, turn on some patriotic music and watch the sky light up.