WASHINGTON -- The Fourth of July holiday in the nation's capital normally involves the traditional "A Capital Fourth" performance at the U.S. Capitol, fireworks on the Mall and a parade on Constitution Avenue.
Why not add some new -- and unusual -- traditions to your yearly apple pie, fireworks and patriotic tunes? Here are five ideas to make your holiday more soulful, tasty and all-around epic.
EAT TOO MUCH:Get in the patriotic spirit by embracing good old-fashioned American gluttony at Z-Burger's annual Independence Burger Eating Contest on July 3. The winners will enjoy cash prizes and Z-Burger gift cards, while spectators will get free samples in more normal-sized portions. Whether you come to compete, watch in admiration or mock this uniquely disgusting sport, it promises to be an entertaining afternoon.
FREAKS UNITED: Trade your American flag face paint for black lipstick and rock out to something a bit edgier than "God Bless America." Celebrate your freedom to be weird at the Freaks United Festival, an annual gathering of goth and industrial bands with names like Waste, the Gothsicles and DJ Purevil at Ziegfield's down near Nationals Park. The festivities start July 4 at 4 p.m. and last until 3 a.m.
FIGHT THE ALIENS: What could be more patriotic than existential crisis, looming spaceships and a sweaty Will Smith fighting to save all mankind? Catch a special July 4 screening of Independence Day courtesy of NoMa Summer Screen Series. Kick back with a blanket at Loree Grand Field -- the show starts at 7 pm.
GORUCK CHALLENGE: The founding fathers are said to have been inspired by ancient Greek culture, and some Washingtonians will spend the Fourth imitating the legendary physical prowess of the Spartans at the Goruck Challenge. Stop by the route (to be announced soon) and cheer them on as they don backpacks full of bricks and embark on an eight- to 10-hour race through the city, starting at 5 a.m., to benefit the Green Beret Foundation.
FLEE DC: Parades are so 2011. Check out the bathtub race at the "Frederick's 4th" celebration in Frederick, Md. this year instead. Also: a chili cook-off, a dunking booth, fireworks, a scavenger hunt and, at 4:45 p.m. on the main stage, the terrific 80s New Jersey band The Smithereens. Noon to dusk at Baker Park, Frederick, Md.
Flickr photo by Lost Albatross, used under a Creative Commons license.