The Independence Day Fireworks

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The Old Maltese
Independence Day Fireworks
21 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:

As soon as we receive your entry, we'll send you the book of instructions and the giant Rand McNally Road Atlas, upon which the course wends its way southward the length of North America (in even-numbered years it's northward).

We accept new entries continually until late July.

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Note: Entries for the 2017 Independence Day Fireworks have closed.

Please check out our Almaniac trivia contest, coming up next, on Halloween.

Our next map rally will be the 55th St. Valentine's Day Massacre, starting on New Year's.

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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 past summer it was southbound U.S. 65, from the upper midwest down to Louisiana, through such marvelous metropoles as Minneapolis, Des Moines, and Tallulah. Then we'll continue southward to Central America.

In 2016 it was northbound U.S. 75, from Conroe to Canada, through such wonderful places as Dallas, Tulsa, Omaha, and Luverne -- and within shouting distance of Fargo. Entering Manitoba, we meandered up to Qausuittuq in the far frozen Nunavutian north.

In 2015 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.

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

10. Go left on 10 in Blue Earth County.

Question: Do you go through Good Thunder?

11. Go east onto other road at county seat.

[The answer was No: we were traveling southbound on Minnesota 22 and Instruction 10 turned us left (to the east) at Beauford, away from the town of Good Thunder.]

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You have until August 7 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 receive a Fireworks brochure in the mail next June, in advance of the 2018 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