Is there a better way to honor the greatness of being an American than spending a day with your family and neighbors ... and mosquitoes?

Independence Day always feels like the official start of summer.

Maybe it's the long day spent at the parade and the pool and eating ribs that makes one forget everything else that happened before.

We filled two plastic bags with parade candy picked from the road. So much candy my daughter volunteered to donate a large portion to the Repository newsroom "free" table.

With a handful of crayons, my daughters turned large sheets of paper into grand American flags and attached them to crooked sticks with clear tape.

We used at least half a bottle of sun tan lotion.

"Ice cream truck!" my 7-year-old screamed at one point.

"Dad, Dad, ice cream truck!" her 4-year-old sister echoed.

And the ice cream truck made the wise decision to turn down our street.

I responded in kind, sprinting inside to grab cash so we could pick out a tasty treat, even though we just ate Popsicles. It was that kind of day.

At dinner we ate ribs and corn outside on our porch. My wife cut the corn off the cob for our oldest daughter, who is missing her two front teeth.

Then we relaxed inside, later we played in the front yard. Then we played in the backyard. Then we wondered when it would ever get dark enough for fireworks.

Every 15 minutes or so, I would remind my daughters that they were staying up another 15 minutes past bedtime.

And they looked tired, until it was dark enough for sparklers. Then they were wide awake.

At the end of our street, we have a direct view of the North Canton fireworks. It's a good view and better commute home. But mosquitoes also enjoy that spot.

Sometimes I think mosquitoes see bug spray less like poison and more like barbecue sauce because each time I apply it, I feel like it actually draws more bugs to gnaw on my ears and ankles.

When the show was over, my daughters crashed hard and fast into bed, and my wife and I sat outside.

I noticed, even when the fireworks die down, the noise doesn't. Inside the house, the air conditioner was buzzing because despite loving fresh air and open windows, it was just too stinking hot out.

Outside, in the distance, neighbors held their own late-night fireworks shows, which usually last until August. And when the party died down, bugs and other spooky outside noises got louder.

There was a loud buzz in the air that drowned out even the highway noise. After finishing a beer, I casually squished a number of mosquitoes with the empty can as they tried to drain me of any blood I had left.

And my wife and I decided it was time to call it a day ... well past midnight.

Independence Day is by far my favorite holiday. There are no gifts, no obligations. Really, the only rules are don't lose a finger to fireworks and don't get sunburned.

Is there a better way to honor the greatness of being an American than spending a day enjoying this great country with your family and neighbors ... and mosquitoes?

I don't think so.

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On Twitter: @DaveManley