Independence Day weekend.
Time for parades, cookouts and fireworks.
It’s also time for trivia, because while there’s nothing trivial about freedom, the wealth of history and lore surrounding July 4 demands that every once in a while we review the lives of the Founding Fathers, the origins of our seminal documents and the volume of beans coming from North Dakota.
Thanks to the U.S. Census Bureau and a handful of other sources, here are some fun facts pertaining to Independence Day coupled with non-facts for comedic effect.
■ Macy’s fireworks spectacular in New York City, with 75,000 pounds of pyrotechnics is rated the largest in the country by AOL Travel. Nashville’s show, with 13,500 pounds, rounds out the top 10. If you count the fireworks set off by Georgia Hiller in the Collier County Commission chambers, Naples would rank third on the list.
■ Every year the United States imports about $3 million worth of flags made in China. We buy their flags, they buy our grandchildren’s future. Sounds fair.
■ The Census Bureau estimates there’s a one-in-four chance any hot dog or pork sausage consumed in a holiday barbecue was produced in Iowa, noting that Iowa is home to 19 million hogs. Put another way, that’s about two hogs for every Republican presidential hopeful that has visited the state in the past month.
■ There’s a one-in-six chance the beef in your hamburger was raised in Texas. News that Glenn Beck is moving to Dallas reduces the likelihood that any beef will get out of the state to one in ten.
■ Thirty-six percent of the nation’s dry, edible beans come from North Dakota. Not surprisingly however, the state’s attempt to generate a dry, edible bean-based tourism industry has largely fallen flat.
■ About the significance of July 4, John Adams wrote in 1776, “The day will be the most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations.” Later in life he added, “and giant sales on mattresses and bedding.”
■ Static electricity in synthetic clothing can ignite fireworks. Those who make fireworks wear cotton all the way down to their underwear. Anthony Weiner’s explanation that he was merely demonstrating proper fireworks manufacturing attire to those college girls was, however, widely dismissed.
■ It is believed that gunpowder was discovered accidentally by a Chinese alchemist as he mixed sulphur and potassium nitrate over a fire. A less popular theory holds that it was discovered accidentally by Al Gore as he invented the Internet.
■ You should never transport fireworks on an airplane. It is a violation of federal law, plus it invites unwanted, “is that a Roman candle in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” jokes from TSA agents.
■ The worst fireworks-related disaster in history occurred on May 16, 1770, during the marriage of King Louis XVI to Marie Antoinette. A mishap during the celebratory fireworks show caused a stampede that killed 800 people. The second worst was when Lady Gaga wore a dress made of fireworks to an awards show.
■ The value of trade last year between the United States and the United Kingdom was $98.3 billion, making the British, our adversary in 1776, our sixth-leading trade partner today. If you factor in the value of Pippa Middleton bikini photos circulated on line, it becomes our second leading trade partner.
■ The estimated population of the United States at the time of its founding was 2.5 million people. And not one of them ever thought to call George Washington a d**k on national television.
Happy Independence Day.
Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten