We bought a cheap BBQ from a local shop where Mark also inquired "do you have any fireworks?"
"No mate, it's the wrong time of year."
Mark was stunned. It was July 4th, how could it be the wrong time of year for fireworks? I had to remind him: "We're in the UK. US Independence - not celebrated so much. We only use fireworks to celebrate the time a guy tried to blow up our Parliament, not the time we lost to you guys. It's not really our finest moment in history."
We went to a local bottle shop and Mark cleaned them out of Sam Adams. We cooked meat outside my apartment. As per the rules of British barbecuing, it rained. We had trouble keeping the BBQ alight and everyone congregated in the kitchen, except a few guys who decided it was a man's job to play with meat and flames. The burgers and sausages were served according to traditional British BBQ cuisine: black and crunchy on the outside and disconcertingly pink in the middle.
I thought it was great, everything turned out as expected and nobody died of food poisoning. Mark learned a lot about the rules (or unwitting traditions) of British al fresco dining.
This year it was my turn to see a real July 4th in real America. Our local parade was just the ticket. It was already reaching 90F (32C) by 10am, but we took a spot by the roadside and enjoyed being part of the local community. Nowhere in the world does patriotism like the USA. And nowhere in the USA does patriotism like the rural sprawl.