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July 4th weekend guide: What you need to know about Independence Day in Connecticut

June 30, 2016 GMT

Independence Day is all about cookouts, the beach, fireworks, carnivals and pride.

But Friday, “getaway day,” is all about surviving. Here is what you need to know about navigating to a less stressed, more fun-filled Fouth of July weekend.

Trains

Metro-North Railroad is will offer 17 extra trains early Friday afternoon, in a bid get commuters to head home early. The added departures from Grand Central Terminal are scheduled from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The regular weekend schedule will be in effect on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, trains will run on the Sunday schedule to bring riders home from the Macy’s Fireworks 40th anniversary (where Kenny Chesney and Meghan Trainor are the headline performers).

Planes

Expect increased security and longer lines at check-in, following the attack by IS terrorists on the Istanbul Airport on Wednesday.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports, “continues to monitor the situation in Turkey and is collaborating with federal, state and local law enforcement partners to include the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force,” said a statement issued Wednesday by the authority.

“Today’s action is in addition to the diverse counter-terrorism patrols at various Port Authority facilities following the attack on an Orlando club earlier this month,” ths statement continued.

While security will be tighter, air traffic is likely to be up 2.2 percent nationally, according to AAA, which says 3.3 million Americans are expected to the skies around Independence Day.

You can check up to the minute flight information here.

Automobiles

Industry analysts expect record-breaking numbers on the road between Thursday and Monday. The AAA anticipates nearly 43 million Americans will travel by car over the long weekend; that’s 5 million more that Memorial Day weekend, according to association spokesperson Julie Hall.

“We are well on our way for 2016 to be a record-breaking year for summertime travel,” Hall said.

What’s “driving” travelers to the highways? The lowest gas prices in a decade, according to AAA President Marshall Doney. Compared to the same period in 2015, American drivers have saved $20 billion on gasoline so far this year.

State Parks

Campsites at Hammonasset and picnic pavilion space at Indian Wells are all taken, but you can check availability at other state parks on the Reserve America system used by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Water Quality

The four shoreline state parks and the 17 state parks with lakes or ponds for swimming are all open. Water quality testing will be done on Thursday, with the results released on Friday. For up-to-the-minute water quality reports from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection call toll-free 1-866-287-2757.

History

It was actually July 2, 1776 that the Continental Congress declared independence from Britain for the American colonies; the final wording of the document and its first public reading were on July 4 so, if anyone asks, you have a reason to party all weekend. You can read about the events that led to the Declaration of Independence, and the document itself here.

Fireworks

All fireworks are illegal in Connecticut, with the exception of sparklers and fountains. State law defines sparklers as non-explosive, non-aerial devices that contain less than 100 grams of pyrotechnic mixture. Both sparklers and fountains may be legally used by persons aged 16 and older. Novelty items such as “party poppers,” snakes and smoke bombs are not legal.

“Illegal fireworks can bring with them not only the potential for property damage, but could cause injury or fatality to human life,” said Trooper First Class Kelly Grant, the State Police spokeswoman. “If a fire or explosion caused by legal or illegal fireworks causes injuries or damage, the person responsible could be charged with a criminal offense.’’

The safest way to enjoy a fireworks display is to attend a public display conducted at a state approved site by Connecticut licensed pyrotechnicians, she said.

Read up on the state’s fireworks law here.

Cookouts

Speaking of fire safety, state officials are urging American Revolutionary revelers to be extra cautious with their cookouts. Of the estimated 214 million people plan to celebrate the Fourth of July, nearly two-thirds plan to attend a cookout, barbecue or picnic, according to the National Retail Federation. That means a lot of potential mistakes.

“Before starting a bonfire or fire pit, check town regulations, store water nearby, supervise children around open fire, and don’t throw garbage into the fire,” Grant said. “Aerosol cans and other types of garbage can potentially explode and become dangerous projectiles.’’

Looking for conversation starters around the grill? Here are some fun facts about the food sizzling on the flames.

We spent $193 million on hamburger patties in 2009, according to “Fourth of July by the Numbers” on Thomasnet.com. We spent another $203 million on mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup, according to the site.

If you need some help with grilling, LongHorn Steakhouse is bringing back its Grill Us Hotline for the Fourth of July holiday. The restaurant’s experts will be available by phone, at 1-855-544-7455 on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for consultations. There are more tips and tricks for grill masters here.

Independence Day is the most popular holiday for beer purchases, with around 68.3 million cases sold, according to the site. Labor Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day and Christmas follow behind.

All in all, Americans are expected to spend $6.8 billion on food for the holiday, according to the National Retail Federation.

One billion dollars goes to beer, according to an estimate by WalletHub cited by CNBC.

Waving the flag

Red white, and you — about 60 percent of U.S. households already own an American flag according to a study conducted for the Federation.

That means that nearly 140 million flags are ready for a holiday display. Nearly a quarter of respondents said that they were likely to buy patriotic merchandise such as red, white and blue bunting and T-shirts, caps and bumper stickers with patriotic slogans. But about 18 percent of adults surveyed this week said that they do not own any patriotic merchandise. Read the complete survey here.