A Holiday for Small Towns

A friend of mine who moved to Chicago once told me, “The Fourth of July is a holiday best spent in a small town.”

I didn’t get what he meant until I moved away to Chicago, where I had always assumed the celebrations were bigger and better. But the local traditions – and the joy of seeing friends and local celebrities dressed like fools and tossing candy – are things you can get only in a small town such as Baileys Harbor or Egg Harbor.

On our peninsula, you get that rare chance to bounce among celebrations in several towns – and squeeze in a dip in the lake or the bay in between (see Grace Johnson’s guide to optimizing the Fourth in this week’s entertainment section). 

Growing up, the Fourth was easy for me. My grandmother’s house was located on the bend in Egg Harbor: a perfect viewing perch with plenty of highway frontage for a long candy-catching corridor. For others, such as Egg Harbor native Katie Helscher, the Fourth started early with a hunt to claim a spot. 

“For me going to the Fourth of July parade, it was the excitement of catching the candy, going with your friends to stake out your spot and watching the floats come through,” she recalled. 

Those floats created memories – the Thumb Fun hearse, the Fishstock party, the Main Street Market shopping-cart brigade and of course, the marching bands. 

I loved my time in the big city, but my friend was right. The Fourth is a small-town celebration, and few places do it better than Door County.