The Independence Day Fireworks

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

a continent-length trek during the scorching summer, in odd-numbered years from the far Arctic north of Canada to the mountain heights of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 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:

In July 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.


Note: Entries for the 2015 Independence Day Fireworks closed at the end of July.

Our 53rd St. Valentine's Day Massacre map rally is going on right now.


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.

Last summer it was southbound U.S. 51, from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan all the way down to southern Louisiana, through such magnificent places as Madison, Mt. Pleasant, Memphis, and Magnolia. Then Dominetta Vitali helped us find a way to reach the uplands of Honduras.

In 2014 it was 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 made our way up to Qausuittuq in the far frozen Nunavutian north.

In 2013 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 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.


Along the way, we'll ask you questions to see if you're on the correct course. Here are two instructions on this summer's event, somewhere in Illinois near the Spoon River, and the question between them.

11. Turn left onto state highway.

Question: Do you see Spoonerized towns [i.e., their names' leading consonants switched] Hood Gope and Cran Sweek?

12. Turn south onto U.S. 67, then go east on Illinois 9 in McDonough County.

[The answer depends on which state highway we use for Instruction 11 and where it meets U.S. 67 for Instruction 12. As it happens, we turned left onto Ill. 110 at Interstate 74's interchange 46, then south onto U.S. 67, then we saw the Spoonerized towns Swan Creek [Cran Sweek] and Good Hope [Hood Gope] before ending #12. ]

You have until August 10 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.


To receive a Fireworks brochure in the mail next June, in advance of the 2016 Independence Day Fireworks, just send The Old Maltese an e-mail request mentioning the Fireworks, with your street mailing address, or mail a note to us at:

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