The Independence Day Fireworks

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The Old Maltese
Independence Day Fireworks
25 Annual Events (and counting) . . .

a continent-length summertime trek, in odd-numbered years from the far Arctic north of Canada southward to the mountain heights of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, along the way challenging your logic, alertness, and common sense

a shorter version of the big St. Valentine's Day Massacre

from country to country, cover thousands of miles yet still be able to sip your orange juice on the porch, because it's all done on maps!

This is how the Independence Day Fireworks works:

On July 1 we'll send you the book of instructions and the giant Rand McNally Road Atlas, upon which the course wends its way southward the length of North America (in even-numbered years it's northward).

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Note: Entries for the 2021 Independence Day Fireworks closed on July 31.

Please check out our Almaniac trivia contest, coming up next, on Halloween.

Our next map rally will be the 59th St. Valentine's Day Massacre, starting on New Year's.

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July 18 note to 2021 Fireworks competitors:

On July 12 we mailed to everybody entered by that date a postcard with two changes. (Instruction books sent since July 12 have had the changes noted directly in the books.)
For your information, we repeat those changes here:

On page 10, Instruction 1: please change its coördinates to I-8.
[Why? I-8 is correct for the start of Leg 4 – B-7 was correct for the start of Leg 3. ]

On page 23, Instruction 3: please add at its start:
‘After having gone through Hallettsville, go west on highway whose number’s first digit is 9, then’
[Why? To ensure that a new Action – ‘go west’ – will end the use of rule b for Alt 77. ]

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By following the instructions, on your porch, the kitchen table, or wherever is cooler, spending an hour or so (or however long the orange juice lasts) at a time, you travel on a continuous half-regular-St.-Valentine's-Day-Massacre-length course, from page to page in the Atlas.

Each year we explore an odd-numbered U.S. highway, in alternating years north-to-south or south-to-north.

This summer it's southbound U.S. 287, from Montana through Yellowstone and Fort Collins and Amarillo to the Gulf of Mexico. Then onward to Tegucigalpa.

Last summer it was northbound U.S. 83, from the southern tip of Texas through Abilene, North Platte, and Pierre to North Dakota's border with Manitoba. Then onward to Qausuittuq.

In 2019 it was southbound U.S. 81, from northeastern North Dakota past Fargo, Wichita, and Oklahoma City to Fort Worth. Then onward to Tegucigalpa.

In 2018 it was northbound U.S. 231, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, going from the Florida Gulf Coast through Dothan (in Alabama), Murfreesboro (in Tennessee), Bowling Green (in Kentucky), and Klondike (in Indiana). Then northward to Qausuittuq in Canada's farthest-north reaches.

In 2017 it was southbound U.S. 65, from the upper midwest down to Louisiana, through such marvelous metropoles as Minneapolis, Des Moines, and Tallulah. Then we continued southward to Central America.

Along the way, we ask you questions to see if you're on the correct course. Here are two instructions from a recent event, somewhere in Nebraska, and the question between them.

7. Go south, then go west.

Question: Do you see Harold Warp Pioneer Vil.?

8. Go east on Nebraska 4.

[The answer was Yes: Instruction 6 ended north at Fairfield, then we went through Harvard to Instruction 7 south near Trumbull, then west onto U.S. 6, then we saw Harold Warp Pioneer Vil. near Minden before reaching Nebraska 4 for Instruction 8.]

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You will have until August 9 to send in your answers.

Following scoring, custom-designed awards go to the top competitors, and local champion certificates to the best of them from each state, province, and country.

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Google Street View

Fireworks rallyists will notice that occasionally during the rally we provide a link to a Google Street View photo taken along the course.

These photos don’t affect the Fireworks course or questions in any way and may safely be ignored if you aren’t interested in them.

But click on any of these if you are interested in seeing what's 'really' there [and -- this is remarkable -- after clicking on an image you can look around or travel along the road, as with any Google Street View photo].

As for us, we weren’t watching the road; we were enjoying the scenery, especially the clouds.


in Leg 1: between La Ronge and Prince Albert in Saskatchewan

in Leg 1: west of Kenaston in Saskatchewan

in Leg 2: Corner Gas in Saskatchewan

in Leg 3: Rogers Pass, Continental Divide in Montana

in Leg 3: Sula in Montana

in Leg 4: Lamar River Trail, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

in Leg 4: Newcastle in Wyoming

in Leg 5: Riverside in Wyoming

in Leg 6: Woodrow in Colorado

in Leg 6: toward Big Sandy Cr. in Colorado

in Leg 6: Coldwater Creek, Rita Blanca National Grassland in Texas

in Leg 7: toward Washburn in Texas

in Leg 7: Watt in Texas

in Leg 8: Louise in Texas

in Leg 8: Big Bend National Park in Texas

in Leg 8: Pijijiapan in Chiapas

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To receive a Fireworks brochure in the mail next June, in advance of the 2022 Independence Day Fireworks, just send The Old Maltese an e-mail request mentioning the Fireworks, with your street mailing address, or mail a note to us at:

Independence Day Fireworks
P.O. Box 53
La Cañada, California 91012