Sacramento, welcome to the best "hump day" of the summer, a rare midweek Independence Day. To help you have a great Fourth of July, we've compiled this family-friendly Sacramento Bee holiday playbook.
But first, we have a request of you. Share your day with us by sending us photos and videos of what you're doing to celebrate our nation's birthday.
We want to see - and publish - shots of you, your kids and, of course, your dog decked out in its finest parade wear. And when the sun sets and fireworks hit the night sky, how about sending us a short video (we're talking 10 seconds here) of the most awe-inspiring moment?
Now, for some fun.
Fair weather ahead
If you like it in the 80s, tomorrow is your day. Some afternoon winds are expected. Here's the latest forecast, plus a dramatic drone video over a scenic part of the Sacramento River to get you in the outdoorsy mood.
Fires and air quality
Sacramento air quality and public health officials, however, are advising residents to minimize outdoor activities through Sunday due to smoke from the Yolo and Napa county fires. Check current conditions at the regional air quality information website.
"The smoke from wildfires can pose a health risk for anyone, but is especially harmful for older adults, young children, and those with existing health conditions,” said Sacramento County Public Health Officer, Dr. Olivia Kasirye. “If you see or smell smoke limit outdoor activities."
Placer County air officials issued a similar warning for July 4.
Raise the flag
It may be one of the proudest things many of us do each year, putting up our nation's flag on the front porch, perhaps with a row of red, white and blue Fourth of July bunting.
There is a right way to do it though, as the federal government lays out here.
July 4 is a day of laid-back picnics and backyard barbecues. But it's also a day of family-friendly organized events around the region, from carnivals to concerts to fun runs to parades. Fortunately, The Bee has a guide to events around the region.
Not to sound too parental here, but be careful. Fire season showed up early. And fireworks can be dangerous.
The Bee editorial board weighed in recently with this sober take.
So, if you're going to do the fireworks thing, here are some smart safety tips.
That said, here's our guide to the best fireworks this year, rated by the Bee's newsroom interns using their state-of the-art "ooh" and "boom" factoring method.
Lost dogs and cats
July 4 is typically the big jail break night for pooches and other pets, who may scamper when frightened by the sights and sounds of fireworks. Here are some tips on how to keep your pets safe, and how to find them if they go missing.
Rivers and lakes
Lakes and rivers are, for many, the funnest place to be on Wednesday. Your best bet is to get there early. If you're going to a county or state park, look up the parking information and other rules and policies on that agency's website. If you're going swimming, bring life jackets and take a look first at this important video from The Bee on how to save yourself from drowning.
You can expect heavy traffic wherever you go on Wednesday, much like a typical work day. Morning travel will be lightest, though. According to a new Google analysis of last year's Fourth of July travel, traffic in Sacramento and San Francisco will ramp up gradually in the morning and remain near peak through the afternoon.
As you might expect, traffic calms during the evening hours, then sees a small spike around 10 p.m. after fireworks displays typically end.
Before you head out, your smartest bet is to check the Waze traffic app or Caltrans Quickmap or other real-time mapping systems to get a sense of what's happening on the road.
July 4 is typically one of the more dangerous days of the year on the road. The main culprits: alcohol consumption, drugs, fatigue, inattention, and speed. The CHP will have extra enforcement out and will be looking in particular for drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The state Office of Traffic Safety says:
- Designate a sober driver
- Take a taxi or a ride-share service like Uber and Lyft, or use public transportation
- If someone has been drinking, take their keys and find them another way home
- Report drunk drivers by calling 911.