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Fourth of July ideas for New York City families 2012

We've rounded up fun Fourth of July ideas for NYC families so you and your crew can celebrate the nation's birthday in the city with patriotic flair.

Photograph: Kent Miller Studios/Macy's, Inc.

Nothing announces summer's full swing quite like Independence Day. Even though we're missing out on a long weekend this year, there's no dearth of Fourth of July ideas for city kids and their parents on the weekend leading up to July 4, 2012, and on the big day itself.  We adore the extravagant annual Macy's fireworks display, this year on the Hudson River again, but we've come up with all kinds of Fourth of July ideas for kid-friendly things to do, from patriotic storytimes and historical reenactments to a workshop on the bald eagle and a concert by the TriBattery Pops in Robert F. Wagner Park. Whatever you're doing to celebrate the holiday as a family, we wish you a Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday Story Hour: Sweet Land of Liberty!
This week's weekly storytime celebrates the country's independence by looking at New York City's ever-regal symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty. Kids will learn the history of this famous statue by listening to two stories, Sweet Land of Liberty by Callista Gingrich and The Story of the Statue of Liberty by Betsy and Giulio Maestro. Sun July 1 11:30am--12:30pm. DiMenna Children's Museum, inside the New-York Historical Society. Free with museum admission. Ages 4 and up.

A Clearing in the Forest: Stories
Independence Day is just around the corner, and the time is ripe to explore a bit of America's fascinating history. Balladeer and teaching artist Linda Russell from Symphony Space will guide tots through some of the nation's most meaningful tales through fun, down-to-earth storytelling. (The event will be canceled in the case of inclement weather). Sun July 1 noon--1pm. Peter J. Sharp Children's Glade, Central Park. Free. Ages 3 and up.

Freedom Strut
Slavery was abolished in New York State on July 4, 1827, and for years afterward, African-Americans annually celebrated their emancipation at parades and fancy dinners on July 5. Museum educators will be on hand to help little ones decorate their clothing as former slaves once did on this occasion by inscribing inspiring messages on their sleeves. Sun July 1 1--4pm. Lefferts Historic House Museum. Free. Ages 4 and up.

Special House Tours: Louis Armstrong Birthday Tours
Louis Armstrong always celebrated his birthday on the Fourth of July, though his real birthday was exactly one month later. The museum honors the legendary musician by remaining open for special tours that include celebratory birthday photos, audio clips and a complimentary cupcake for kids under age 13. Wed July 4 10am--5pm. Louis Armstrong House Museum. Free with admission. All ages.

Special Living History Day: July 4th Celebration
July 4th is about more than just barbecues and fireworks. At this all-day event, families will travel back to 1776 to learn about some of the legends who witnessed the birth of our nation. Benjamin Franklin and his wife, Deborah Read Franklin, are portrayed by actors in a performance that's equal parts entertainment and history lesson, while troubadour duo the Hudson River Ramblers educate little ones about the Revolution through storytelling and music (noon, 3pm). Kids can also join in a presidential scavenger hunt (11am--4pm; ages 4 and up) and create a painting of fireworks after learning the history behind the pyrotechnic tradition (noon--4pm). Wed July 4 10am--5pm. DiMenna Children's History Museum, inside the New-York Historical Society. Free with museum admission. All ages.

Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest
Celebrate the great American pasttime of watching others go for the hot-dog gold by cheering on participants in this annual contest. At last year's showdown, five-time champion Joey Chestnut once again devoured the competition by chowing down on 62 hot dogs, while Sonya Thomas won the first-ever Women's Championship with a grand total of 40. Wed July 4 at noon. Nathan's Famous. Free. All ages.

Eagle as Icon
On this Fourth of July, conservationists-in-training learn all about the bald eagle and the role the bird has played in shaping our national identity at this engaging, naturalist-led presentation. Wed July 4 1--3pm. Prospect Park Audubon Center. Free. All ages.

Declare Independence
At the historic Lefferts House in Prospect Park, little ones can get into the patriotic spirit by fashioning a plumed hat to wear and lending their John Hancock to a reproduction of the Declaration of Independence. Wed July 4 1--4pm. Lefferts Historic House Museum. Free. Ages 4 and up.

TriBattery Pops: 4th of July Performance in Wagner Park
The downtown volunteer community band celebrates the Fourth of July with an eclectic set, including tunes that range from the obvious (Sousa) to the quirky (Gaga). Wed July 4 at 9pm. Robert F. Wagner Park. Free. All ages.

36th Annual Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks
We hear this year's explosive presentation, appropriately called "Ignite the Night," will boast more than 40,000 bursts of color and light for your family's pyrotechnic amusement. This year's performers include Katy Perry and Kenny Chesney. Grab a blanket and portable radio (you can catch the show's original soundtrack on 1010 WINS), find your favorite spot and delight in the crackling. Wed July 4 at 9pm. Hudson River between 18th and 48th Sts (212-494-4495, macys.com/fireworks). Best viewing: Twelfth Ave between 26th and 57th Sts. Free. All ages.

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