Fourth of July in the Canal Zone

Happy Independence Day from PCMC! We have several items in the collection showing how Zonians celebrated the Fourth of July throughout the years.

How did you celebrate Independence Day in the Canal Zone?


Fourth of July Dance Program, 1908


Selections from Fourth of July Activity Program, 1940


KIC Image 0001

Fourth of July fireworks from Sosa Hill, 1954 – 1960


  • deepizzaguy

    My memories of the Fourth Of July in the former Canal Zone were seeing the parades in the La Boca area with marching bands from the JROTC units and the other branches of the U S military. It was nice and fun. I sure miss those days.

  • Diane Sparks

    Forth of July in the Canal Zone was a most celebrated holiday during the year. I remember from in the 40’s when I was young it was a big day for me. I lived in Margarita in those days. We had movie shows in the afternoon. contest and different rides. At night was the fireworks. My family would put a blanket on the little hill between the commissary and clubhouse to sit on while watching the fireworks. In later years I was interested in it until I had children. There was parades and rides for the kids and then the fireworks at night. I think the 4th of July was the next best holiday to Christmas.

  • Janice (Grimison) Scott

    My grandfather, Thomas I. Grimison, Roosevelt Medal #3619 from Easton, Pa 1907, imported fireworks for 4th July celebrations until his father’s factory along the Delaware River burned with an unplanned fireworks show circa 1940. In 1972, my brother in law told me ‘kids used to go under the Grimison 4-family on the corner of Barnaby & Las Cruces Streets where Tom stored his imported fireworks crates, vandalize the crates, & swipe fireworks. I felt so guilty about doing that that when I got my first job, I sent him a letter with an annonymous confession & payment.” Tom passed away in 1958, thus too late to ask him if he recalled the annonymous letter about the missing firworks, though I doubt being ‘boys will be boys” and CZ pranks, this was probably not a one-time occurrence.
    As a Brownie in the ’50s and my own kids in the ’70s, being in the 4th of July parade was a big deal! The Pacific Side route varied over the years: along the Prado; Roosevelt Avenue; and, last along LaBoca Road from the Printing Plant to Balboa Road. Participants included cars with dignitaries, scouts of all ages, CZ Police, ROTC, cheer leaders, baton twirlers, horses from riding clubs, Shriners, and military units. All would recall the heat and humidity!
    After dark in the early days, fireworks were shot from Balboa Stadium and in later years from Sosa Hill.

  • Bob Zumbado BHS 1955

    In 1947 and 48 I lived in qrtrs 1580A Cacao St in Gavilan Area and earned my allowance shining my step dads shoes, polishing the brass door knobs in the house, watering the lawn. He wouldn’t spring for a sprinkler so watering by hand was easy but time consuming and kept me out of mischief for a short time. Beginning in May I would save the allowance and in mid June or so a couple of other boys and I would go into Panama City, somewhere on Central Avenue and buy as many packets of firecrackers as we could. If memory serves the firecrackers were Chinese and were called Zebras as a brand. Fourth of July was spent observing official events and also roaming about Stevens Circle, the Balboa Stadium parking area, around the bowling alley and the clubhouse lighting and tossing firecrackers most of the day. A length of thick rope with a lighted end, called a punk, would be used to ignite the fuses, no matches. I recall an occasional finger being burned if you held the cracker too long before tossing, the fuses were short. Imagine that area with maybe 50 or more little boys ages 10 to 12 doing the same thing and nobody stopped us ….it was great fun. In later years, maybe 1950, the AAU sponsored a track meet in Balboa Stadium and I still have the little red, white and blue felt badge for winning my age group 100yd dash. Yeah July 4 was very well celebrated.

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