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Growing up, my parents wanted us to have the opportunity to watch firework displays in different cities each year. Because of this tradition, I have seen some amazing patriotic shows on the mall in Washington, D.C., during the Statue of Liberty's rededication in New York City, over the ocean from Pier 80 in Seattle, and many more. We had a few repeats, but for most of my life, I have been in a different location to celebrate our nation's birthday.

My husband, Scott, and I decided to carry on this tradition with our own family, and I am proud to say that my kids have never seen the same pyrotechnic show two years in a row. We haven't been as adventurous as the East Coast, but we have seen some grand 'ole celebrations closer to home Bass Lake, Fresno, Angels Camp, and more. This year we will be in Lake Tahoe. As a newcomer to Bakersfield, I have not seen the annual Fourth of July show at Bakersfield College, but I hear it is definitely one to add to our list of venues.

As an Air Force "brat," my sisters and I learned at an early age to respect our country and all that it stands for. When I interviewed Alice Rankin Beard for the Mothers, Shakers, and Community Makers, I was impressed with her sense of patriotism and dedication to her family. I also had the privilege of talking with Warren Carter, who learned to love God and our country from his parents' example, and now his life's accomplishments teach his children and grandchildren the same values. You can read more about their stories on page 12.

To really show your patriotic flare, you can check out "Food and Fun on the 4th" recipes on page 15. The Star-Spangled Black Forest Ice Cream Cake looks scrumptious!

Our resident humorist, Tracie Grimes, writes in her "Humor at Home" article on page 10, called "Lift Flap to Open," about her need for morning comfort, like chocolate.

In this issue, you can find our annual "Family Favorite Awards" survey. This is a chance where you, our readers, get to have a vote in what people, places, businesses, and organizations make Bakersfield a great place to raise a family. So, take a moment, fill it out, and send it back to us. Then you can read your results in an upcoming issue.

Whatever your family plans are during this month, if you really want to get into the patriotic spirit, read Rick Epstein's article in our "Fatherhooding" section. Or, on a more serious note, Lee Greenwood's song, "God Bless the U.S.A." His chorus really hits home especially in today's climate.

Have a Happy Fourth of July!

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