Patriotic Duty

Celebrating July 4th in New Orleans

The headlines are filled with stories of people who are seeking freedom, and our legislators are working on new policies to either welcome them or detain them. This blog isn’t really the place for overt politics, but if you read it often enough, I clearly have opinions.

Forgive me for calling it out, but I must say that as I celebrate July 4th this year, I will think of the sacrifices made by my veteran family members (and going further back, those made by my illegal immigrant ancestors) so I can enjoy my freedom and feel proud of American ideals. I will also be thinking of those people who hunger for the opportunity to earn a place in our country too. And don’t get it wrong… undocumented workers are earning their place here and have been since our founding.

When you think of the challenges along our borders today, aren’t they a result of the beauty of the American Dream and the desire to seek it out? So let’s celebrate that dream for its complicated reality and the hope it continues to bring. Also, hot dogs.

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On that note, the quintessential American food should be eaten in a quintessentially New Orleans way, and that would be at Dat Dog. With three locations around the city, Dat Dog is a local chain that delivers local flavor. Louisiana favorites like Vaucresson hot sausage, alligator sausage, crawfish sausage and andouille star in the show, supported by a cast of pork and beef sausages. Dat Dog also offers vegan dogs, chicken breast and beer battered cod fish.

More than 20 toppings can make your dog your own, or you can order one of the House Specialties. The Crawfish Etouffee Dog, a side of seasoned fries and one of the local draft beers to wash it all down with make for a meal any founding father would appreciate.

For those seeking air conditioning for hours at a time, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and Audubon Insectarium and Butterfly Garden will be open on July 4th. In coordination with Go 4th on the River, Audubon is offering a discount of $4 on a single admission June 30-July 4 with this coupon. Visitors can chill out with the penguins or get grossed out by the cockroaches. The two locations are separated by a few blocks on Canal Street.

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It’s not July 4th in NOLA without a snow ball. Find your nearest shaved ice stand and get a red, white and blue one to show your patriotism and your flair for flavors. There is a decent snowball stand in front of the aquarium along the Mississippi River, but if you want the real deal, you might need to leave the French Quarter. Mid-City has the great Pandora’s Snowballs at 901 N. Carrollton Ave. They don’t have a website and neither phone number I found for them worked, so check their Facebook page before you go for their hours, or just throw caution to the wind. Two Uptown mainstays are Williams Plum Street Snowballs near Tulane University and Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, which is my personal favorite.

For actual lovers of fireworks, Go 4th on the River is the Independence Day celebration that brings live music to Crescent Park and the French Market in the evening, and then at 9 p.m. dueling barges will light the night over the Mississippi River with fireworks that can be seen from both banks of the river. You can also download an app for Android or iPhone to listen to choreographed music with the fireworks display.

As one of this country’s oldest cities — which was controlled by various countries and even different sides of the Civil War — we certainly know how to celebrate our freedom in New Orleans.

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