Cherry pie, a parade, fireworks – and lobster racing?
The basic ingredients of July 4 are familiar to most, but some communities have a few funky traditions of their own come Independence Day. Below are six of the strangest of them, from California to Maine to Denmark:
1. Marshmallow fighting
Ocean Beach, Calif., a seaside neighborhood of San Diego, is in a sticky situation.
Since the 1980s, revelers have held a gigantic marshmallow fight on the town’s beach, and more than 600 pounds of the fluffy stuff have been used in recent years.
“The marshmallow fight is pretty awesome,” said one San Diego resident to KPBS Radio in June. “People go out and thoroughly enjoy themselves.”
Though many cherish the tradition, some residents have become uncomfortable with the “mob-like” atmosphere of the event, and the town council has voted to halt the fight.
The rub is that it lacks the authority to do so, and police have noted that throwing marshmallows does not qualify as assault.
So for the time being the gooey fight is on. Just don’t expect a warm welcome from all the local shopkeepers.
2. Lobster racing
The town of Bar Harbor, Maine, doesn’t shy away from stereotypes come Independence Day.
While some parts of the country host horse or dog races in certain venues, local businesses in this Down East island town put forth lobsters for an annual derby.
Apparently, crustaceans aren’t the most capable sportsmen: Some rush to the finish line, but others amble around confused, or bolt in the wrong direction.
“It’s absurd,” said event director Dan Ashmail to The New York Times in 2009. “And the funny thing is, lobsters are not predictable.”
3. Hot dog binging
Eating a frank is pretty normal on July 4, but eating 69 of them in 10 minutes is not.
That’s the record set by competitive eater Joey Chestnut at the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, which takes place on New York's Coney Island on Independence Day.
The gastronomic challenge has taken place since 1916, but controversies have scarred the event in recent years.
In 2010, former six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi was arrested after storming the awards ceremony in protest of his exclusion from the event due to a contractual dispute.
“It was extremely unfortunate and a little bizarre,” said Major League Eating Chairman George Shea to the New York Post.
Mr. Kobayashi has since claimed to have broken the 69-dog record before Mr. Chestnut, further fanning the flames of controversy in the world of competitive eating.