Red, white, and slew

Americans are going to celebrate the Fourth of July the only way we know how -- with a big, gaudy, over-the-top birthday party with titles using lots of alliteration and words such as sensational and extravaganza. See, stuff like that proves we really love our country. This year, with the holiday falling on Sunday, the Fourth of July is devouring the entire weekend with three full days of events, ranging from parades and fireworks to cookouts and clowns to the more bizarre of patriotic celebrations.

Garland's Star-Spangled Fourth is the apex of metroplex festivities; it's practically a three-day giant American sideshow. There's The Thriller Bee Show, which features Dr. Norm Gary, who wears a beard of 100,000 California bees while playing the clarinet. There's an artist who carves sculptures out of wood with a chain saw and a watercolor painter who is blind. Attractions like these have helped Garland win the Grand Pinnacle Award for Event of the Year from the International Festivals and Events Association, beating events like the Kentucky Derby.

It could also win the VH1 Where Are They Now? award for its musical lineup, which includes The Commodores, The Turtles, The Supremes, and Lorrie Morgan. The music may be a little KLUV-centered (after all, they do sponsor the concert), but the Garland celebration isn't completely, um, golden-oldies-and-kids-centered. It does have the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Now what's more American than a man who wears bees and buxom blondes high-kicking in microscopic white shorts and boots? How about a parade of pets in costume and the Watermelon Olympic games?

On Saturday, McKinney will celebrate its Annual Good Old Summertime festivities with "The Red, White & Blue Pet Parade," where pets and their doting owners compete for prizes in categories such as "Most Patriotic," "Most Congenial," and "Pet and Owner Look Alike." After the parade and award ceremony, free watermelon will be served at Clyde's on the Square, where there will be competitions in the watermelon crawl, the watermelon relay, and seed spitting. Hence, the name "Seed Spittin' Saturday."

If the country atmosphere proves a little too quaint for your tastes, there's always gambling. That's right -- take the kids to the track for some family fun at Lone Star Park. There will be the regular horse races and special children's activity areas all weekend, plus fireworks and a concert featuring Ray Wylie Hubbard, Rosie Flores, and Dale Watson on July 3.

But if the showiness is just too sickening for those true patriots, celebrate the Fourth of July 1800s-style at Old City Park. The historic park and living farmstead will feature a parade, music, kids' activities, hay rides, a Stonewall Jackson impersonator, a trick roper, a yodeler, people making housewares out of gourds, and the Zor Shriners' camel patrol. There will also be The Dolly-Llamas, a sheep-to-shawl team -- sounds like those cartoons where a woman pulls a single strand from a sheep's back, unraveling the sheep's wool by rows as she knits.

Those looking for something more traditional (though likely still flamboyant), can view fireworks at Grapevine Lake in Mansfield, Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, and Las Colinas at Williams Square Plaza (otherwise known as the place where the mustang statue sits). And Arlington will have a parade July 3 beginning at 9 a.m. near the city hall.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Shannon Sutlief