Another Independence Day is upon us -- the 243rd in fact -- and residents and visitors alike will have no shortage of celebrations they can attend throughout the Brainerd lakes area.

Brainerd, the “Fourth of July Capital,“ kicks off its celebration at 4 p.m. Thursday with its annual parade in downtown. Fireworks will be at 10:15 p.m. Don Adamson Sports Complex, Brainerd High School.

Crosby’s parade starts at 11 a.m. Thursday and travels on Highway 210 between and through Ironton and Crosby, with fireworks on the docket at dusk at Crosby Memorial Park.

In Emily, the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence will take place at 9 a.m. Thursday at Fairfield Town Hall.

In Longville, the parade begins at 11 a.m. Thursday with fireworks at dusk over Girl Lake.

In Pequot Lakes, the Stars & Stripes Parade begins at noon on Thursday.

Events and activities are happening not just on July 4, but throughout the week and weekend. Check Page A1 of this edition of the Dispatch for a complete list.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t advise residents to be prepared for inclement weather. There’s a 60 percent chance of rain Thursday, with showers likely and a thunderstorm possible in the morning and then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1 p.m. It might not hurt to bring a raincoat, rain poncho or umbrella with your wherever your Fourth of July celebrating takes you.

And while there’s plenty of fun to be had, we also would remind people to stay safe -- whether it’s from dangerous weather, dangerous fireworks or while just plain having too much of a good time. A good reminder for those who plan to spend the holiday on the lake -- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and other public safety personnel are starting extra patrols to target intoxicated boaters. We think it’s good advice not just for boaters but for motorists, too -- think before you drink and go for a ride.

And most important, for people of all ages, is to keep a reminder, even if for only a moment, of the reason for the holiday -- that in 1776 our founding fathers made the bold step to declare our independence from the British Empire and set us on the path to becoming the United States of America.

The Declaration of Indepence’s most famous line, we feel, still holds as true today as it did then: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

So have fun celebrating America everyone, take time to reflect on what and why we are celebrating and enjoy what the Brainerd lakes area has to offer this Fourth of July holiday.