A fun Independence Day was had by all in Jefferson, Texas. That's where my family and I spent our 4th of July. It was our first 4th in Jefferson, which we visit pretty regularly...and we headed out before 10 yesterday morning, because we'd heard there was a big celebration going on there. And it certainly was SOMETHING!

We were greeted by a line of American flags -- and a lot of visitors -- in the downtown area. First thing we did was a little walking and shopping...in the heat, which was particularly brutal. We visited a few of our favorite shops, including the Jefferson General Store. We got the little girl a couple of more birthday presents that we've stashed away for next month. And each of us ended up with something new...I got a July 4th t-shirt with beaded/rhinestoned fireworks on the front. Hubby got a t-shirt and some stickers, and Emma got a cute little unicorn she was eyeing during our last couple of visits.

Then, we had to hit up our favorite Jefferson eatery...Auntie Skinner's. Found out they were doing karaoke beginning at 6 (which I was very much looking forward to, but we didn't ever get around to!) I recommend the chicken quesadillas or the chicken fried steak...MMMMM!

After that, we meandered around town a little more before heading out to Otstott Park for the big celebration. There were chairs set up all over the park, including some little ones for the tiny visitors (in red, white and blue, of course). Booths featuring everything from hot dogs and sausage-on-a-stick to watermelon were lined up around the gazebo. There was even a whole area for the kids, with free face painting and games.

Before the festivities officially began, we had to make a stop in at Riverport Bar-B-Cue. The eatery was nearly destroyed in a January fire...and each time we've visited, we've checked out the progress. The place is now back open, and looking great! And the food is as fabulous as we remember!

Back at the park, Emma wanted to get her face painted, but the ladies doing the painting could NOT put a horse on her cheek (she was pretty adamant about that)...so she settled on a butterfly on one and exploding fireworks on the other (in purple and pink, respectively. She certainly knows what she wants!) And she HAD to have a giant slice of watermelon, most of which ended up all over her clothes.

We enjoyed some patriotic tunes by an all-female chorus before the cake raffle began. Those baked treats looked delicious, but I wasn't about to pay 60 dollars and up for one. Didn't matter...there were people who DID. In fact, the biggest cake went for more than $1,000! I couldn't believe it! I got to try some of that, too...for a buck a slice. Not a bad price to pay, considering how much the lady who won it paid for it.

Next up was a local act...the Shreveport Metropolitan Concert Band, with lots of patriotic favorites. Not sure what happened, but I noticed at one point that the director was sitting...and not conducting. Next thing I know, there's an ambulance, and people standing around someone lying on the ground. From the info I've been able to gather, the heat seemed to have gotten to him. He was taken off to the hospital, and as much digging as I've done, I still don't know what his condition is today. I do hope he's feeling better.

The concert resumed, and I brought Emma over to the kiddie area to play Duck, Duck, Goose. Took her a little bit to grasp the concept of that game. But she did make a new friend at the event...a little girl named Megan, who I'm guessing is about her age. They played tag for hours, running back and forth across the empty aisle in front of us! Must be nice to have that kind of energy. I, meanwhile, was sweating like crazy!

We were so tired after a long day in the brutal heat that we had to catch the fireworks on the way home, but it was an amazing sight to see all the cars, trucks and SUVs lined up along the road waiting for the big show. And others were packed down by the riverfront, too.

All in all, it was a great fourth. What did you do? Feel free to share your stories!