Southern California's presidential libraries are among those hosting Independence Day activities:
Celebrate the holiday at the Ronald Reagan Library's "Old-Fashioned Family Fourth of July," featuring live music by the 1st Marine Division Band, the Sweetest Dixieland Band and Rick Tucker's Country Band. There will be water balloon tosses, a pie-eating contest, storytelling and carnival games. Ronald Reagan Library, 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, (800) 410-8354. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free to the museum and "Old-Fashioned Family Fourth of July."
While visiting the museum, don't miss the current exhibition "Tokens and Treasures: Gifts to Twelve Presidents," a collection of presidential gifts from libraries across the country. The display includes gifts from heads of state such as a lapis lazuli portrait of President Reagan given to him by the president of Pakistan, and pieces given by private citizens: a fishing rod given to George Bush, for example, and a pointedly political woodcarving of Nixon with his hand caught in a hunting trap labeled "Vietnam."
The British are coming--to Yorba Linda, that is. The Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace is marking the holiday with a Revolutionary War Living History Encampment, featuring American and British troops re-creating the famous battle of Lexington and Concord. The festivities also include townspeople dressed in 18th century clothing demonstrating traditional cooking, woodworking, wool spinning and dancing. Visitors can view the library's rare 1830 copy of the original Declaration of Independence. The fun begins (both Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m.) with a Betsy Ross Flag Raising Ceremony at the library's entrance with a military salute, muskets and a drummer. The Declaration of Independence will be read at 10:40 a.m. both days. Battle reenactments are at noon and 3:30 p.m. both days. Dance demonstrations, 12:45 and 4 p.m.; costume and dress demonstrations at 2 p.m. Museum-goers can visit the Pig's Eye Tavern all day for light refreshments. Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace, 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, (714) 993-5075. Admission for adults and children over 12, $5.95; children 8-11, $2; active military, $4.95; seniors, $3.95; and children under 7, free. Parking free.
What's more American than, um, healthy pizza? After the Nixon Library, stop at Fitness Pizza, 18246 Imperial Highway, Yorba Linda, (714) 993-5421, for tasty (and calorie-conscious) pizza on the way home. Try any of the pizzas with fresh vegetables, like the "gymnast" with spinach, egg whites, turkey sausage and sun-dried tomatoes; the "skier" with chicken breast marinated in yogurt curry sauce, tomatoes, snow peas, asparagus and almonds; or the "bull rider" with broccoli, gold zucchini, mushrooms, red onion, corn, black beans and barbecue sauce. Pizzas: $7.95 for a small, $15.95 for a large.
Start out the day with an American classic. Catch "Rio Bravo" (1959), with John Wayne, Dean Martin and Angie Dickenson at 11 a.m., part of the fifth annual Classic Western and Round Up Film Festival at Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, 1332 2nd St., Santa Monica, (310) 394-9741. General admission, $8; seniors and children under 12, $5.
Spend the rest of the day enjoying a great American pastime: the carnival. At Santa Monica Pier you can smell the popcorn and cotton candy, play the penny arcade and ride the Ferris wheel at Pacific Park off Colorado and Ocean avenues, (310) 260-8747.