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20 Vintage Photos of 4th of July Celebrations

Celebrations back in the day may have looked a little different, but there was still just as much red, white, and blue.

vintage 4th of julyCourtesy Kay Geurkink/Reminisce Extra

Winning the trifecta

“Thanks to Mom’s sewing, my sisters and I stole the show at the 1954 July Fourth parade in Hammond, Wisconsin. From left, Mary took first place dressed as a queen, Shirley took second place playing Uncle Sam, and I took third as a farmer gone fishing.” —Kay Geurkink, Baldwin, WI. If you’re curious, this is why we set off fireworks for the 4th of July.

Eskimo Children In Nome, AlaskaHerbert/Getty Images

Alaska parade

Two Eskimo children watch the 4th of July parade in Nome, Alaska in 1955. They waved American flags as the parade went by.


Cover your ears

After setting off a large firecracker in a post, Frank Craven, now of Centerville, Georgia (far right), and his buddies run off before it goes “boom” in this photo taken July 3, 1938, in Lowell, Massachusetts. These Fourth of July photos will get you ready for the long weekend.

1940s GIRLS AND BOYS IN... H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

Fruit for sale

A group on younger boys and girls sell bread and butter sandwiches, bananas, apples, lollipops, milk, and iced tea on a hot Independence Day in the 1940s.

JUL 4 1969, JUL 5 1969, JUL 6 1969; Shriners of Syrian Temple 49 lead the Fourth of July parade whicIra Gay Sealy/Getty Images

Shriners lead the parade

A group of Shriners of the Syrian temple leads the Fourth of July parade in Denver that was part of the Pride Project in 1969. Check out these festive 4th of July products under $20.

vintage 4th of julyCourtesy Jean Yates/Reminisce Extra

Salute the troops

“Here I am with my sister Barb (dark hat) in Rochester, New York, on July 4, 1960. I was four and Barb was five,” says Jean Yates of Churchville, New York. “We lived with our grandmother Helen Figler until 1962 when we moved two doors down. What great memories we share of those lovely days spent together!”


Musical march

A group of friendly young kids leads a parade filled with music, bikes, and flags down their street in the 1960s.

wearing the flag vintage 4th of julyCourtesy Bernice Sanderson/Reminisce Extra

Wearing the flag

These young women in Crete, Nebraska, must have done quite a bit of extra sewing in 1923 to create this living tribute to Old Glory. Bernice Sanderson, now of Los Angeles, was one of the “stripe girls” (she’s second from the right). If you’re a fan of the Fourth, you’ll want to check out America’s most spectacular Fourth of July fireworks.

Fourth Of July In BerkeleyGarth Eliassen/Getty Images

Berkley parade

A German student studying at Berkley waves a homemade American flag during an Independence Day celebration in California in 1969.

4th of julyCourtesy Marianne Fosnow/Reminisce Extra

Stars and stripes

A young girl, dressed in all red, white, and blue, carries her American Girl Doll on her back. If you want your house to look festive, try these July 4th front door decorations that you can order online.

A Fourth of July celebrationUniversal History Archive/Getty Images

Celebrate in the Carolinas

A festive group gathers to celebrate the 4th on St. Helena Island, South Carolina.

vintage 4th of julyCourtesy Mollie Weldon/Reminisce

Traveling bell

“My stepfather, Harry Davidson, took this photo of the Liberty Bell when it came through Ogden, Utah, in 1915 on its way to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco,” writes Mollie Weldon of Shreveport, Louisiana. “There was a walkway on the flatcar, so people could get close enough to touch the bell.”

Fourth Of July DrummersFPG/Getty Images

Young drummers

George Goldstein, Harold Johnson, and Harold Valentine get ready to march through their neighborhood while playing their drums to celebrate the 4th of July in 1935. Make sure you cook up these picture-perfect patriotic desserts.

vintage 4th of julyCourtesy Norma Bradley/Reminisce

Spirit of Philadephia

“My husband, George, was about eight when he was in his school’s re-enactment of the Spirit of ’76 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the 1920s. He’s at the back on the far left.” —Norma P. Bradley, Brooksville, FL

vintage 4th of julyCourtesy Linda Formelio/Reminisce

Drumming a patriotic tune

A drummer, flag holder, and a man dressed in historic clothing get ready for a 4th of July parade. To feel even more patriotic, check out these gorgeous pictures of the American flag.

vintage 4th of julyCourtesy Elizabeth Lamb/Reminisce

Parade to the moon

“My sons Brad (left) and Bill loved to decorate their bikes for the Fourth of July parade in Sharonville, Ohio,” says Elizabeth Lamb of Albany, Oregon. “We’d have a family conference on what best represented the occasion. In 1969, it was the evolution of flight, as America was about to put men on the moon.”

vintage 4th of julyCourtesy Greg Groom/Reminisce

Flags up

A family set up a flag in their front yard to celebrate Independence Day. Make sure you know the states where fireworks are illegal.

vintage 4th of julyCourtesy Patricia Waldron/Reminisce

For the red, white, and blue

It doesn’t get any more adorable than this. These are the best places to celebrate the Fourth in every state.

vintage 4th of julyCourtesy Tom Kenney/Reminisce

Bike ride

A group of kids celebrates the 4th by adding festive streamers to their bike tires and dressing up as Uncle Sam.

vintage 4th of JulyCourtesy Ella Miller/Reminisce

Little patriot

“My husband, Eldon, was three on July 4, 1941, shortly before America joined the war. Patriotism was strong at the time.” —E.M. “Cookie” Miller, Yelm, WA. Here are some fascinating facts you never knew about fireworks.


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Originally Published in Reminisce