The Independence Day Fireworks

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July 18 note for 2014 Fireworks competitors: On July 5 we mailed you a postcard. If it has not arrived, email us a note and we'll email the postcard's information back to you.

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Independence Day Fireworks
18 Annual Events (and counting) . . .

a continent-length trek during the scorching summer, in even-numbered years from the mountain heights of Tegucigalpa, Honduras to the far Arctic north of Canada, along the way challenging your logic, alertness, and common sense

a shorter version of the big St. Valentine's Day Massacre

from country to country, cover thousands of miles yet still be able to sip your orange juice on the porch, because it's all done on maps!

This is how the Independence Day Fireworks works:

We'll send you the book of instructions and the giant Rand McNally Road Atlas, upon which the course wends its way northward the length of North America (in odd-numbered years it's southward).

We accept new entries continually during July, with all materials mailed immediately, until the entry deadline, July 31.

By following the instructions, on your porch, the kitchen table, or wherever is cooler, spending an hour or so (or however long the orange juice lasts) at a time, you travel on a continuous half-regular-St.-Valentine's-Day-Massacre-length course, from page to page in the Atlas.

Each year we explore an odd-numbered U.S. highway, in alternating years north-to-south or south-to-north.

This summer it's northbound U.S. 85, from El Paso up to the Saskatchewan border, through such capital places as Santa Fe, Denver, Cheyenne, and Belle Fourche. From the U.S./Canada border we'll make our way up to Qausuittuq in the far frozen Nunavutian north.

Last summer it was southbound U.S. 41, from the shores of Lake Superior on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan all the way to Miami, through such fine places as Oshkosh, Terre Haute, Monteagle, and Macon. From Miami we drove to Key West, then flew to Mexico and made our way to the end in the uplands of Honduras.

In 2012 it was northbound U.S. 89, from Arizona up to Glacier County in Montana, through such fine places as Flagstaff, Provo, Yellowstone Nat'l Park, and White Sulphur Springs. Then the final leg took us through Saskatoon and up to the Canadian Arctic.

In 2011 we traversed southbound U.S. 83, from Bottineau County, North Dakota, to Brownsville, Texas, through such fine towns as Bismarck, North Platte, and Abilene. And then we headed for Honduras.

In 2010 it was northbound U.S. 287, from Beaumont on the Gulf of Mexico up to the mountains of Teton County, through Kit Carson, Crockett, Amarillo, and Denver. And then up to the Canadian Arctic.

In 2009 it was southbound U.S. 59, from northwest Minnesota to Laredo, Texas, through St. Joseph, Atchison, Texarkana, and Houston. And down to finish in Honduras.

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Along the way, we ask questions to see if you are on the correct course. Here are two instructions on this summer's event, somewhere in New Mexico, and the question between them.

10. Turn left at interchange.

Question: Do you go through "Truth or Consequences"?

11. Turn right on U.S. 380

[The answer depends, naturally, on where you turn left at interchange and where you turn right on U.S. 380.]

You have until August 11 to send in your answers.

Following scoring, custom-designed awards go to the top competitors, and local champion certificates to the best of them from each state, province, and country.

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To sign up now for this summer's event, send a check (payable to 'Fireworks') for the entry fee to: Independence Day Fireworks, P.O. Box 53, La Cañada, Calif. 91012.

The entry fee is $45. If in Canadian dollars, it's $45 as well. For the U.K.: £34. Continental Europe: 41 Euros. Other overseas: $55 U.S.

Independence Day Fireworks
P.O. Box 53
La Cañada, California 91012

- - and we'll be glad to enclose in the competition package
a gift announcement for you
if you'd like to give an entry as a gift