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Celebrate with a bang

I have always loved the Fourth of July. I grew up in a small town on a small cul-de-sac in Pennsylvania, and every summer our neighborhood would build a float (a seriously spectacular one!) and walk in the local parade. We won first prize every year! Afterwards, we would close off our street and have a block party blow-out. I remember lots of smiles, lots of stars and stripes, flags everywhere and festive, fabulous food. Truly a slice of Americana. In honor of those wonderful summer days decades ago, I put together ten Independence Day entertaining essentials -- float optional.