Vampires: After Thousands of Years, Out of the Crypt

  • July 31, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

It’s a strange new world.  Gone are the days where come midnight, a pale-faced, vampire, dressed to the nines in a dashing tuxedo, slowly creaks his way out of an upright trapezoidal coffin, in search of his next living victim.  Nowadays, thanks to Hollywood gone wild, the vampire might be sitting next to you in math class or may even be working in the cubicle next to you.  One thing for sure, he’s probably not wearing a dinner jacket.  Vampires, at least in the last hundred years or so, still have enjoyed a rather classy and sexy image, even though he continues to be rebooted, upgraded and perpetually made over. The ultimate bad boy, the vampire offers the allure of eternal life and a form of twisted romance that goes along with that endless longevity. The cost?  Just earthly mortal existence as one knows it--and the small problem of surviving on a blood only diet, meaning of course that cheeseburgers and fries will no longer cut it.

 It wasn’t always this glossy out there in vampire land.  In fact, back in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, there was nothing sexy or charismatic about the vampire at all. Superstitious beyond belief, ancient people that lived during this time period came up with some pretty perplexing, not to mention wild-eyed stories and far-fetched reasons to explain away the mysterious things that happened around town just because, quite frankly, they didn’t understand what was happening.  Having no real knowledge of or the slightest inkling about disease, illness or what might actually cause a sudden and unexpected death of a person or animal, these mysterious deaths were often explained away by blaming it on the existence of a vampire-like being coming to life in the darkness, just to suck the lifeblood out of the living.  In fact, rumors and stories regarding vampires were so prevalent during this time period that many villages were experiencing full-blown vampire hysteria. 

 Fearing the worst, it was not uncommon in many villages to exhume the bodies of these suspected vampires and then re-kill the corpses in a way that (at least in their minds) would ensure that they stayed good and dead-permanently this time.  There were many methodologies that were utilized to ensure that the vampires stayed deceased--including the legendary good ol’ stake through the heart technique. There were other ways of permanently killing off a vampire, however, and there is modern evidence being unearthed today to show us just how serious our ancient predecessors were about keeping their dead, dead.

 Vampires.  Truth or Fiction?Recently in Poland, construction workers unearthed four bodies that had been buried thousands of years ago under astonishing and somewhat creepy circumstances. The bones were found with the heads removed and placed either in their hands or between their legs.  Some of the skulls were weighted down with heavy stones.  Buried with no clothing or jewelry, the bodies also held evidence that they had been pierced sharply through with a pointed stake.  Archaeologists believe that these individuals, in order to have been buried in this way, were obviously thought to have been vampires.  Soon after this graphic find, thirteen more skeletons buried similarly were found nearby.  Interestingly, the bodies were discovered in proximity to where an ancient gallows or execution site had once been located.  Oh if graves could talk!  Well, in a way, this gravesite is speaking volumes and bringing to our modern day some of the ancient, not to mention macabre superstition that was part of every day life so very long ago. 

 The legend of vampires:  Is it truth or fiction?  Hard evidence like this vampire cemetery proves without a doubt that whether real vampires ever actually existed or not, there were certainly plenty of folks out there that thought they did. 


Horror Movies: Why We Love Getting Scared

  • July 29, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Have you seen “The Conjuring?”  If you haven’t, you and I may be some of the few remaining hold out’s that haven’t yet succumbed to the spooky intrigue and legitimate fear this movie dangles in front of us like a proverbial carrot.  Ranking #1 at the box office last week with close to $42 million dollars in ticket sales, I was actually slightly surprised that such a dramatic, truly scary looking horror film had the ability to secure the top selling spot--especially with so many other big blockbuster films to choose from now in theatres.  What is it about horror films that people like?  Why are so many of us completely drawn to them? 

Real Fear:  Scientists have shown that horror films create a definite physiological change within our bodies.  When watching a horror film that fills us with fear, we can tell ourselves that it’s not real, but our brains can’t always process the difference between real and imagined fear.  While watching a horror film, the pulse can elevate up 15 beats per minute over its normal rate, while palms begin to sweat, body muscles tighten and the blood pressure also begins to rise.  What is going on here?  It’s not as if the action in the movie is really happening, right? 

It seems that even though on some level we know that “it’s just a movie”, the effect on our brain is similar to what happens during real events, resulting in a physiological reaction similar to what happens during actual fearful events.  Similar body responses happen when riding a thrilling roller coaster ride or going skydiving.  The adrenaline rush caused by the excitement or fear from the experience causes the body to respond accordingly. Some people find this type of rush enjoyable--others quite frankly, do not.

Studies have shown that more men than women respond positively to these self-imposed fearful situations.  It seems that some men find that the more fear they perceive they have endured, the more enjoyable the experience was for them, so in this case, the scarier the movie was the more the man may have liked it.  This male connection to conquering fear may very well be related to our tribal ancestors when it was a common right of passage into manhood for males to have to endure some kind of hardship or trial at the time of his coming of age.

Curiosity.  There is no doubt that people are very curious about things that they may find scary and frightening.  Ask anyone who’s been stuck in a traffic jam behind an accident scene on the highway and they will tell you that people have an irresistible, morbid curiosity about things that are potentially grisly, gruesome or even shocking.  The same holds true with horror films--we may feel somewhat daunted by the prospect of putting ourselves into a circumstance where we know we are going to be scared--but our curiosity about what is going to happen drives us to do it anyway.

Emotional Rescue: Some horror movie lovers find the experience of being really scared somewhat cathartic.  Seeing someone else going through something fearful can be an emotional release for some.  Others find that because of the physiological arousal that is experienced during a scary movie, all other emotions are heightened simultaneously.  Thus, if you were out with friends having a great time, the experience will seem even more fun and exciting when your body is in an elevated emotional state when it is experiencing fear.  If something negative were to occur while you were also in this state, the opposite emotions would then be the ones to be exacerbated.

Whether you are a horror film fan or not, there is no doubt that the utter thrill of having a good scare is something that plenty of people clearly do enjoy.  If you are looking for a good adrenaline rush with plenty to get your heart pumping, “The Conjuring” is in theatres now.  Any guesses who will be the one on the back row, whimpering a little as she apprehensively peeks out from behind her hoodie, which already had been pulled almost completely over her head? Yes, this is scary stuff.  But more likely than not, we are still loving every minute of it.

Here's the official main trailer. Watch it if you dare.


10 Reasons to Love The Wolverine

  • July 24, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

The Ultimate Wolverine

The X-Men movie series has had plenty of cool characters come out of it but the Wolverine may now be rising to the top of the pack.  With “The Wolverine” hitting theatres this week we thought you might need a few reasons as to why the Wolverine may be this summer’s ultimate comic book hero.

  1. Hugh Jackman.  Hugh’s portrayal of the Wolverine in all three of the X-MEN films may very well be what put this handsome Aussie on the map.  In spite of his belligerent and moody bad attitude, he’s still absolutely delicious--especially without a shirt.
  2. Rough Childhood.  Believe it or not, apparently as a boy the Wolverine was quite frail and sickly, fraught with allergies and weakness.  His family was very wealthy and did everything they could to keep him entertained while in his bedridden state, but no amount of money could give him a normal childhood.
  3. Cool Name.  Although the Wolverine is now known as Logan, the Wolverine’s real name is actually James Howlett.  Ironically, “Logan” was the surname of the groundskeeper who killed James’ father right in front of him, which led to the first manifestation of the Wolverine’s special powers.  James Howlett adopted the name “Logan” in order to conceal his true identity.
  4. The Claws.  The Wolverine has adamantine-coated claws that are part of his physical body.  These claws appeared out of the backs of his hands for the first time as he witnessed the murder of his father.  Adamantine is a fictional alloy that is supposedly virtually indestructible and has the ability to cut through any substance. The Wolverine’s skeleton is also coated with adamantine.
  5. Healing Powers.  The Wolverine has the ability to heal or regenerate himself from any injury, disease or toxin that is inflicted upon him. 
  6. War Hero.  The Wolverine has been around for quite awhile, serving in both of the World Wars.  His healing abilities helped him to survive many serious injuries and death, even when held in captivity where he was said to drive the Nazi commanders literally crazy with his regenerative, restorative powers.
  7. Heart of Gold. The Wolverine is a little rough around the edges.  Seemingly self-centered, tough, cold-hearted and introverted, underneath all that nonsense is a man with a very good heart.
  8. Groovy Hairdo.  The Wolverine has a pretty epic hairstyle with what looks like hair horns and funky mutton-chop style sideburns. 
  9. Wolverine Sans Tights. The yellow and blue Wolverine suit is the guy’s hallmark getup; I get that.  Personally, I would much rather see him without it. 
  10. Man, Animal or Both?  The Wolverine has many animalistic traits, including a very keen sense of both hearing and smell.  The Wolverine also likes cigars, motorcycles and women. 

 

 

The Wolverine will be in a theatre near you on July 26, 2013.  Don’t miss what promises to be one of this summer’s hugest blockbuster hits! 


Not Just Smoke and Mirrors: Creating Amazing Spooky Special FX

  • July 22, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Special Effects

The room was dark with only the pale glow of a single candle flickering on the mantle piece.  The eerie light threw shadows up onto the wall--elongated ghost-like images that looked like something out of a Salvador Dali painting.  The silence was overwhelming--so quiet that the creaky floorboards echoed through the hallway with each carefully plodded footstep.  There was no doubt, whether this place was actually haunted or not--it sure felt like it! 

When you are trying to create a specific ambience in your decorating, whether for Halloween or any other occasion, never underestimate the power of lighting and sound.  Think about this--how many haunted houses have you been to in full daylight?  (None, right?)  Creating that dark and spooky glow is essential to getting the creepy Halloween vibe just right and scary sounds are absolutely essential.   Here are some great tips to keep in mind when you are decorating your home for Halloween, creating a haunted house or spook alley, or just want to decorate your front yard with scary stuff.  Having great décor to deck out your abode is the first step, but next you will want to work on creating the perfect spooky mood.

Lights…or lack of them:  There are lots of ways to get spooky lighting into your home or yard without blowing the creepy effect you absolutely want for Halloween.  Good lighting is essential for safety reasons, as you don’t want people tripping and falling over things or fumbling around in the dark.  Decorations that have lighting as an inherent built in feature are a cool option.  There are many creepy Halloween decorations that will give you some lighting where you need it but since the lighting comes with a special monstrous friend attached, the scary effect you are seeking is not lost! Black lighting is a cool option that you may also want to consider.  Without getting into too much physics, in addition to a cool purplish glow, black lights emit ultraviolet lighting, which will make anything “light” appear to glow in the dark.  Things like teeth and fingernails contain phosphorus naturally and will really pick up on this effect.  All it takes is a simple black light bulb!  Decorative pathway lighting is a great way to get your yard or home lit safely, while also adding some freaky ghouls to greet your guests as they meander their way up to your door.   Want to light up your house?  Creepy Halloween lights in blacks, oranges or purples will light up your house while still giving it a legitimate Halloween feeling.  And let’s not forget the powerful and mesmerizing effect of a strobe light.  Whether you are using it in a specific room of a haunted house, or even as a really cool party effect, a little strobe lighting packs a lot of bang for the buck when it comes to creating a specific mood.

Sound Effects:  Music and sound effects are like the heart and soul of your Halloween set up.  Once you have your decorations put up along with the appropriate lighting, don’t omit this small but important detail, as the right sound effects will bring your entire display to life.  Many of our decorations conveniently come geared up with lights and sound, which makes your Halloween decorating extremely easy.  Adding a few sound effects of your own to create a spooky atmosphere is very easy.  Imagine how effective just the utter simplicity of a thunder and lightening track could be, or of course you can go all out scary with ghostly moans and other very haunted sounds.  The right sounds and music will make a huge difference!

Other Mood Makers:  Consider a few other items that are sure to take your Halloween decorating to an entirely new level!  Fog, mist or cobweb machines are fantastic choices for creating an amazing “creepy” haunted feeling like nothing else will!  Some of our more innovative decorations come with fog-machines built right into them, which makes getting down to serious scary business, very, very easy.  Another easy as well as hilarious addition to your Halloween home décor is a crazy mirror that morphs reflected images to look like something straight from the funhouse!  This mirror is a Halloween party must-have!

Make the most of your holiday decorating by incorporating the use of light, sound and special effects!  Making these details an integral part of your display will make a huge difference when you are trying to create the uniquely spooky mood that is the perfect choice for Halloween.


Comic Con Invades San Diego

  • July 17, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Comic Con 2013

Geeks of the world UNITE!  This is your time to shine.  In case you hadn’t heard, this weekend is Comic-Con.  Every year about this time, the entire downtown area of San Diego transforms itself into a little mini-city of unusual characters as the geek-o-rama takes over most of the area.  This year the convention is being held July 18-21, with a preview night being held on the 17th.  Normally a pretty subdued place to make an escape, this weekend the streets of downtown San Diego will be filled with all manner of dressed up wildlife. Based on what’s been seen in past years, this is a no-holds-barred opportunity for comic, sci-fi and anime buffs to really get their game on.  And we do mean get their game “on” quite literally as cosplay is absolutely the order of the day.  (Cosplay is the technical term for costumed role-play.)

What is Comic-Con?  Comic-con is an annual convention held in San Diego, California that features and showcases all things having to do with comics, science fiction and anime, including all forms of media such as movies, books and most obviously, comic books--in addition to all the amazing characters that come out of them. There will be about a bazillion things happening during Comic-Con. The show floor of the convention center will be filled with booths of various exhibitors.  There will be autograph signings and panels of experts covering various topics of interest.  Many exclusive products will be offered up at Comic-Con as well, which undoubtedly will send many a comic nerd’s heart a-flutter.  This convention features geekery at its finest hour, and trust me, in this there is no shame.  This is one of those times when it’s definitely quite hip to be square.

One Big Costume Party:  You might think that dressing up in a really outlandish costume for a convention is only for a few brave, die-hard fans.  Don’t rush to judgment folks, because this convention might surprise you.  If you aren’t in costume you might actually be the anomaly or in this case, the even bigger nerd.  Cosplay is the mainstay of Comic-Con, with participants really getting into their favorite characters with costumes that are pretty amazing in some cases.  This is a fan convention, after all, so if ever there were a perfect opportunity to dress up as a fantasy character, this would be it.  Some Comic-Con attendees prepare for this event all year long; designing very elaborate costumes to wear and display for all to see.  You don’t have to be a total die-hard costume maker to get into the spirit of the event, however, and there are many very cool costumes that are simply created out of leotards, tights, running shorts or even t-shirts as a base.  These simple clothing items are then appropriately gussied up with various accessories, makeup and other costume accoutrements--then it’s wa-la--Comic-Con costume nirvana!

Comic-Con is an opportunity for the nerdier folks amongst us to get into absolutely resplendent costumes and do some serious self-expression--all while having the dweebiest time of their lives.  It’s not every day in iconic downtown San Diego that seeing ten different versions of Superman walking down the street is just the order of the day.  In these parts, however, that’s the sort of behavior we fully embrace.


The Face of Horror: Top Fifteen Movie Monsters We Love To Hate

  • July 15, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

This is the stuff nightmares are made of, baby.  There are monsters and then there are monsters.  These freaks have lurked in the darkest of the creepy places, the very deepest shadows--lying in wait until the time is right to perpetrate their murderous deeds.  Lucky for us, we only know these villainous bad boys from watching them commit murder and mayhem while up on the silver screen.  Their reputations are infamous, however and their sickening deeds are indelibly imprinted on our minds.  When it comes to horror flicks, these are the characters that will remain in our imaginations, lit by the macabre limelight of depraved evil forevermore. 

Norman Bates15.  Norman Bates (Psycho, 1960)-The truly heinous part about Norman Bates is how completely unthreatening he seems at first glance.  A seemingly unassuming, quiet and reclusive man, this notorious proprietor of the Bates Motel turns out to be indeed, pretty darn psycho. Norman made the simple act of taking a shower something absolutely chilling.

14.  Ghostface (Scream, 1996)-The contorted mask worn by Scream’s Ghostface is the hallmark of this notorious murderer who loves to taunt and tease his victims before he takes them out.  Whoever wears the Ghostface mask becomes the next scream villain, picking up the killing right where the prior murderers left off.

chucky13.  Chucky (Child’s Play, 1988)-He just wanted to play with you--he’s just a doll, after all.  That doll, however, was possessed with some kind of weird voodoo hex, infused with the ability to come to life and commit savage murders. 

12.  Jack Torrance (The Shining, 1980)-Jack Torrance is every man and that is exactly what makes what happens to Jack so truly frightening.  Whether it’s a bad case of cabin fever or just too much time hanging out in the likely haunted Overlook Hotel, Jack completely loses his mind, subsequently going on a murderous rampage, savagely lashing out at his very own family.

11. Pennywise The Clown (IT, 1990)-Pennywise is the heinous embodiment of every clown-a-phobic out there.  Conjured up in the great mind of Stephen King, this heavily painted clown with a mouth full of spiky teeth probably shouldn’t be invited to your kid’s birthday party.

Leatherface10.  Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974)-What in the world could be worse than a crazed Texan dude hell bent on ripping you apart with his chainsaw?  How about one that is going to wear your face as a mask when he’s finished? 

 9.  The Monster of Frankenstein (Frankenstein, 1931)-In Frankenstein, Boris Karloff infamously brought to life author Mary Shelley’s well-known monster figure.  The monster itself is often referred to as Frankenstein but Dr. Frankenstein is actually the mad scientist who created the monstrous being who itself actually has no known name.  This monster has long been considered to be one of the more classic horror/Halloween villains.

8.  Jigsaw (Saw, 2004)-Jigsaw is different from most maniacal killers in that somewhere in the midst of his hideous agenda, is some sort of a twisted moral code that he adheres to.   Those who failed the Jigsaw-induced ordeals had their flesh cut into puzzle pieces, thus his memorable nickname, “Jigsaw”.

7.  Pinhead (Hellraiser, 1987)-Pinhead is the leader of a group of hedonistic, pain-embracing sadomasochists’ known as Cenobites that mysteriously appear when a puzzle box is solved.  Murder and torture on his mind, Pinhead is probably the last guy on earth you’d want to spend any amount of time with.  His piercings alone are enough to send a cold shiver down your spine.

6.  Zombies (Night of The Living Dead, 1968)-Definitely the “monster du jour” these days, the zombie is popping up everywhere with a few common denominators.  The zombie infection spreads like wildfire through the bite of an infected being.  Zombies also relentlessly crave human flesh and will stop at nothing to feed their incessant craving.  The zombie was probably most notably introduced in George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” and these lumbering corpses continue to be rebooted both in film and in television. 

5.  Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs, 1986)-Hannibal Lecter is about as intelligent and charming as one could possibly be considering his grisly penchant for killing and then eating his victims. 

michael meyers4.  Michael Myers (Halloween, 1978)-Michael Myers is the original bogeyman made famous by the Halloween series of slasher films.  After killing his sister when he was young, Michael Myers was then locked away in a mental institution for the criminally insane.  Remorseless and as cold-blooded as a killer could get, Michael Myers returns fifteen years later to kill more teenagers.

3.  Count Dracula (Dracula, 1931)-Many various morphings of the Dracula character have come to pass, both before Universal’s 1931 adaptation and of course, afterward.  It is Bela Lugosi’s simmering Dracula version that truly infused charm and terror into this beloved time-honored vampire, however, as this classic character has not only stood the test of time, but has proven to have set the bar by which all other blood sucking vampires will forever be measured.

2.  Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th, 1980)-Hiding his deformed face behind an infamous hockey mask, Jason Voorhees is the revenge-driven killer who seems literally unstoppable when it comes to his bloodlust. No matter how permanently he has been seemingly killed off, he still somehow manages to reincarnate himself as he returns to his murderous rampage; hell bent on keeping Camp Crystal Lake forever closed.

freddy krueger1. Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984)-When it comes to scary freaks and geeks, there is nothing quite like Mr. Krueger. His hideously scarred face and razor-sharp shears just add to his completely malevolent persona.  Freddy, notorious for doing his evil bidding while his victims are dreaming, takes our top honor for the scariest of the horror villains because of his unique ability to tap into the supernatural dream world when it comes to perpetuating his evil agenda.  In any case, Freddy is obviously not someone you’d want to encounter in your waking hours either.


Hi Yo Silver! The Lone Ranger Rides Again!

  • July 08, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

The Lone Ranger Rides AgainThe character of the Lone Ranger has been around for such a long time that believe it or not, he actually made his first appearance long before television even existed.  Making his debut in 1933 on a WXYZ radio program in Detroit, Michigan, the character known as the Lone Ranger captured early audiences with his mysterious bravado and justice seeking agenda.  Now eighty years later, The Lone Ranger has been rebooted and modernized for the silver screen in a new feature film adeptly titled, “The Lone Ranger.”  Here are some of the basic Lone Ranger facts you might want to know before you hit the theatres to see this action packed western adventure!

  • John Reid, Texas Ranger.  The Lone Ranger is a former Texas Ranger.  He was the sole surviving ranger after a violent ambush perpetrated by the notorious Cavendish gang.  His status as the only surviving member of his division of rangers is the source of his new identity as, “The Lone Ranger.”
  • Tonto. The Lone Ranger has a well-known sidekick and right hand man named Tonto.  Tonto first came upon the surviving ranger (John Reid) after the siege of the Cavendish gang that nearly wiped out all the Rangers in John Reid’s division that fateful day.   Tonto rescued John Reid and nursed him back to health. 
  • The Mask. In order to conceal John’s identity and protect those that may be associated with him, Tonto made John Reid a mask from one of the deceased Ranger’s vests and gave it to The Lone Ranger to wear.  Together from this point on, John Reid and Tonto dedicated their lives to a cause of justice and fighting against crime.
  • Epic Song. The legendary theme song from The Lone Ranger radio and television series is called the “William Tell Overture”.

  • Giddy Up. The Lone Ranger rides a horse named Silver.  Tonto rides a horse named Scout.
  • Kemosabe. Tonto’s term of endearment for The Lone Ranger is “Kemosabe”.  Kemosabe is said to be a term from the Potowatomi Indians that means “faithful friend” or “trusted scout”.
  • Silver Bullets. The Lone Ranger is famous for only using silver bullets.  Loading silver bullets into his gun reminds him that every life has meaning and is very precious.  When the Lone Ranger shoots, he only does so to injure, never to kill.
  • Riding Into the Sunset.  When the Lone Ranger rides his horse away after another successful Wild West style battle against crime he is well known for saying, “Hi Yo Silver!  Away! 

Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski, the dynamic duo behind “The Pirates of the Caribbean” movie franchise, have resurrected The Lone Ranger story in a thrilling western style adventure that is filled with action as well as humor.  The story, told through the eyes of Tonto, recounts the events that led up to John Reid becoming a truly legendary lawman who is hell bent on preserving goodness and justice, while fighting against evil, greed and corruption.   


Trivial Pursuit of Happiness--Fun Fourth of July Facts

  • July 03, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Fourth of July TriviaThe Fourth of July is a unique holiday that holds its own special place in the hearts of Americans.  It’s not just any old holiday--on this day we celebrate the day long ago that our Founding Father’s declared their independence from the royal rule of England.  Of course, the British King was less than thrilled.  Fast-forward through the American Revolution all the way to today--and you have what is arguably the most beloved holiday of the summer months.  Traditionally a family-oriented holiday filled with barbecues, parades and of course, fireworks--the Fourth of July holiday also has some fun facts and trivia that is associated with it.  We thought you’d like to know some of the more obscure little details surrounding this blessed patriotic celebration--it will give you something to talk about while you are grilling up those wienies. 

  • Not to be overly technical, but the Declaration of Independence was actually adopted on July the 2nd.  John Adams also believed that this was the day Independence Day should be celebrated.
  • There is one U.S. President that was born on the Fourth of July.  This honor goes to Calvin Coolidge who was born on this patriotic date in 1872.
  • Three U.S. Presidents died on the Fourth of July.  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (both in 1826) and James Monroe in 1831.
  • It takes approximately 10 minutes to read the entire Declaration of Independence. 
  • Only twelve of the original thirteen colonies approved the Declaration of Independence.  New York’s delegation actually abstained.
  • Malia Ann Obama will be fifteen on her Fourth of July birthday.
  • There are 1,458 words contained within the Declaration of Independence, including all of the signatures.
  • In the year 1777, Congress for the first time authorized the use of fireworks as part of celebrating Independence Day.
  • It wasn’t until 1938 that Congress finally made the Fourth of July an official paid Federal holiday.
  • On the Fourth of July there will be over 14,000 fireworks displays held nationwide. 
  • In July of 1776, the U.S. population was estimated to be approximately 2.5 million.
  • In July of 2013, the U.S. population is estimated to be approximately 316.2 million people.
  • There will be approximately 150 million hot dogs consumed on the Fourth of July holiday.
  • Over 200 million pounds of fireworks will be used this July the Fourth.
  • Benjamin Franklin actually wanted the turkey to be the National Bird of the United States, but Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who wanted the Bald Eagle to take the spot, overruled him.  (Really, Ben?)
  • The National Anthem is actually set to the melody of an old English drinking tune called Anacreon in Heaven.
  • That American Flag you like to display on the Fourth of July is very likely imported from China.  Nearly 5 million dollars worth of American Flags will be imported from China this year alone.

Happy Fourth of July from your friends at Halloween Express! 


Fourth of July: Celebrating With All-American Style

  • July 01, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Celebrate Fourth of JulyThe Fourth of July is just days away.  Maybe you have plans to get away and celebrate the most patriotic holiday of the year in a really big way.  Most of us, however, will likely take in the activities of the Fourth right in our own hometown.  There are some activities that go with Independence Day like a hand goes in a glove. How will you spend your Fourth?

Fireworks:  Fireworks displays will be happening all over the nation on the Fourth of July, including in a town near you!  Some of the larger, more infamous fireworks spectaculars occur, of course, in America’s biggest cities.  Philadelphia, Boston, New York, New Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco all proudly boast some pretty epic fireworks displays for the Fourth; finding which fireworks display you want to attend might be one of the hardest decisions you make.

Blockbuster Movies:  Fourth of July and the weekend following it are a traditional time for big blockbuster movie releases, this year being no exception.  Some very exciting new movies will be out for your viewing pleasure over the Fourth of July holiday.  Look for “Despicable Me 2”, and “The Lone Ranger” for starters.

Museums:  Many museums will have open hours on the Fourth of July so if you are lucky enough to live near one, this may be a great time to take in a little Early American history.  For example (and my personal fave) the National Museum of American History is open daily and it is filled with all sorts of interesting things such as Dorothy’s Ruby slippers, a piece of Plymouth Rock, a signed baseball from the 1937 All-Star baseball game, a Kermit the Frog puppet--and the list goes on.  You may have a cool museum close to your own home that’s also filled with amazing things from the past; don’t miss out on this chance to see a slice of life from another time and place--it’s magical!

Block Party or Barbecue:  The Fourth of July is a great time to get the entire neighborhood together for a big Fourth of July celebration.  Reconnect with your friends and neighbors with a big patriotic barbecue.  Grill up all your favorites and bring all the accoutrements potluck style.  Invite a little extra fun into your event and bring out a little bit of your competitive side by conducting a homemade chili contest or a watermelon or hot dog eating contest. 

Parades:  Many communities have Fourth of July parades and if yours is one of them, you will not want to miss it, as it’s an excellent way to get into a festive and patriotic mood in a hurry.  Bring small American Flags to wave while you are on the parade route and don’t forget to dress in your red, white and blue or most patriotic gear.

Display The American Flag: One of the easiest ways to celebrate the Fourth of July is to hang up an American Flag.  Take a crash course in flag etiquette, however, as the American Flag must always be handled with appropriate care and respect.  Learn the basics of how to hang the flag properly.  Never let the flag touch the ground and if it rains or when it gets dark, take the flag inside.

Concerts:  Many communities will hold outdoor concerts on the Fourth of July featuring patriotic music or music from a wide variety of other genres.  Check your community calendar for upcoming special events for the Fourth and get out and enjoy some great music under the stars. 

Patriotic Events and Reenactments:  Some communities will have reenactments from the time surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence or other important historical events.  You may see characterizations of various important historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.  More likely than not, good ol’ Uncle Sam will be out and about on the Fourth of July, too.  If you are feeling especially patriotic, this may be the perfect chance for you to adopt one of these unique personas for yourself--they are perfect for any parade or Fourth of July celebration!

Baseball:  What’s more American than baseball?  There are whole bunches of major league baseball games scheduled on or around the Fourth of July, so if you want to really get into one of the most All-American activities of all time, spend your Fourth at the ballpark.  Don’t forget to buy yourself some peanuts and Cracker Jacks!

Family Time:  For many of us, myself included, the Fourth of July is about family time.  What family traditions do you have that center around this amazing patriotic holiday?  My family tradition is to make homemade ice cream.  (Yes, in the ice cream freezer with rock salt, lots of ice and all the naughty ingredients!)  It’s a fun family tradition that has stuck--in the most delicious possible way.  The important thing is to have fun and make memories that you will have for a lifetime.

Whatever you do to celebrate your Independence Day, take a moment to remember our brave founding fathers that set the groundwork for freedom and bravely fought for the liberties we enjoy in our lives today.  As American’s, we all have much to appreciate and to be grateful for.