The Independence Day celebrations on the Outer Banks do a great job of reminding us of what’s really important. Standing with a few thousand people along the parade route in Duck, just about everyone is decked out in red, white and blue. They’re waving miniature flags and cheering just as loudly for the dogs that lead the parade as they do the Bayberry Hillbillies.

For all of its silliness and fun, there is a wonderful reminder that what binds us is far greater than anything else.

It’s very reassuring. 

It’s possible those same qualities come to the fore in large cities, but there is something different about a small town July 4th celebration. It’s almost like a step back in time, although it would be hard to imagine our founding fathers riding a unicycle while twirling a lasso and playing a trumpet.

Duck goes all in with the small town feel, complete with free watermelon and water at the town park, and this year entertainment by Just Playn' Dixieland—and that was what they played and they played it very well.

Over in Manteo, it was also small town, with live music on the old Dare County Courthouse steps followed by the 208th Army Band outdoors at Roanoke Island Festival Park.

That was really a treat—especially when they wrapped up the show playing a couple of John Philip Sousa marches. Great stuff.

And then came the fire works…and they did not disappoint.