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8 Halloween Costumes That Have Been Banned By Schools

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Sometimes Halloween can be more tricks than treats. People of all ages love to dress up as their favorite pop culture characters or other cool things, but some costumes can be more controversial than others. Some schools have chosen to ban Halloween completely. Others have compiled lists of inappropriate and offensive costumes like the ones below that students are not allowed to wear.

1. JESUS CHRIST

In 2013, a student at Highland Park High School in Illinois was made to remove his Jesus costume because the school said it was “offensive” and that he was “promoting religion.” The senior told the press that he wore the costume because Jesus was the “most influential person” in his life, but the school upheld their policy against costumes that could be offensive to someone’s religion, culture, gender, heritage, or sexual orientation.

2. SUPERHEROES

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The Halloween staples were thought to be too scary for some children, so administrators at an unidentified school sent a letter to parents ahead of the holiday. Written in Comic Sans, the notice, which was shared on reddit in 2014, states that superheroes including (but not limited to) Wolverine, Batman, Superman, the Power Rangers, and “any of the Fantastic 4” are not allowed, and neither are witches, ghosts, or any other costume that would be “scary to a small child.”

3. GEISHAS, SQUAWS, AND COWBOYS

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In 2013, the Dean at the University of Colorado Boulder issued a memo to the student body asking them to “consider the impact [their] costume decision may have on others in the CU community.” Featured on the list of frowned-upon Halloween garb were “costumes that portray particular cultural identities as overly sexualized, such as geishas, 'squaws,' or stereotypical, such as cowboys and Indians.” The memo also asked that students not host parties whose themes could be considered offensive, like “ghetto” or “white trash/hillbilly.”

4. SOMBREROS

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The Guild of Students at the University of Birmingham stopped its peers from participating in what it called “discriminatory behavior” by banning certain costumes at events, including sombreros and ponchos that some students wore to dress like “Mexicans.”

5. TRENCH COATS

In 1999, parents in Littleton, Colo. and other towns in America convinced schools to ban trench coats and all-black clothing year-round because the goth fashion was too closely associated with the students responsible for the Columbine High School shooting. “School administrators started considering these groups to be gangs and harassment of students was rampant with unwarranted backpack searches, detainment in the hallways by security guards, and being called into the administrative offices for questioning,” student Jennifer Muzquiz told CNN at the time.

6. CROSS-DRESSING

According to reports, an Eastchester, N.Y. school once banned cross-dressing to “stop students from mocking gay, bisexual and transgendered students as a costume prank.” In 2014, an advocacy group objected to the ban but the superintendent, Walter Moran, stood behind the decision. “Any student has the absolute right to cross-dress any day or days, and the school respects that student's personal decision,” read a statement by Moran. “In an effort to respect the race, religion and gender of our students, we believe that Halloween costumes should not make light of this.”

7. SEXY NURSE

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At Quinnipiac University, the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer said that insensitive costumes, including “blackface, or as a Mexican, hooker, gangster or promiscuous nurse,” were just as offensive as “writing the ‘N-word’ on a blackboard or a chalkboard or a whiteboard in the dorms or in the residence halls.”

8. ANYTHING WITH A WEAPON

An elementary school in New Jersey wanted to compromise with parents and their children in 2007, so they allowed some costumes to be worn without the accessories. The New York Times reported that throughout the school there were gun-less cowboys, swordless pirates, and devils without pitchforks. “When you consider all the horrific things that have happened in recent years, including 9/11,” said a teacher at the school, “I can’t blame any school for wanting to steer away from anything that might promote violence.”

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10 Things You Didn't Know About the Fourth of July
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With 242 years of tradition behind it, the Fourth of July is one of America’s most cherished holidays. It's when we celebrate our nation's mythology with a day off, a backyard barbecue, and plenty of fireworks. But with all that history, you'd be forgiven if you didn't know quite everything about July 4. So from the true story behind the signing of the Declaration of Independence, to some staggering hot dog statistics, here are 10 things you might not know about the Fourth of July.

1. THE DECLARATION WASN'T SIGNED ON JULY 4 (OR IN JULY AT ALL).

John Trumball's 1819 painting "Declaration of Independence."
John Trumball's 1819 painting "Declaration of Independence."
John Trumbull [Public domain] // Wikimedia Commons

It might make for an iconic painting, but that famous image of all the Founding Fathers and Continental Congress huddled together, presenting the first draft of the Declaration of Independence for July 4, 1776 signing, isn't quite how things really went down. As famed historian David McCullough wrote, "No such scene, with all the delegates present, ever occurred at Philadelphia."

It's now generally accepted that the Declaration of Independence wasn't signed on the Fourth of July—that's just the day the document was formally dated, finalized, and adopted by the Continental Congress, which had officially voted for independence on July 2 (the day John Adams thought we should celebrate). Early printed copies of the Declaration were signed by John Hancock and secretary Charles Thomson to be given to military officers and various political committees, but the bulk of the other 54 men signed an official engrossed (finalized and in larger print) copy on August 2, with others to follow at a later date. Hancock (boldly) signed his name again on the updated version.

So if you want to sound like a history buff at your family's barbecue this year, point out that we're celebrating the adoption of the Declaration, not the signing of it.

2. THE FIRST CELEBRATIONS WEREN'T MUCH DIFFERENT THAN TODAY'S.

After years of pent-up frustration, the colonies let loose upon hearing the words of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Military personnel and civilians in the Bowling Green section of Manhattan tore down a statue of King George III and later melted it into bullets; the King’s coat of arms was used as kindling for a bonfire in Philadelphia; and in Savannah, Georgia, the citizens burnt the King in effigy and held a mock funeral for their royal foe.

Independence Day celebrations began to look a bit more familiar the following year, as the July 18, 1777 issue of the Virginia Gazette describes the July 4 celebration in Philadelphia:

"The evening was closed with the ringing of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks, which began and concluded with thirteen rockets on the commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated. Every thing was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal."

There were even ships decked out in patriotic colors lining harbors and streamers littering city streets. Once you get past the mock funerals and rioting of 1776, modern Independence Day celebrations have stuck pretty close to the traditions started in 1777.

3. EATING SALMON ON THE FOURTH IS A TRADITION IN NEW ENGLAND.

The tradition of eating salmon on the Fourth of July began in New England as kind of a coincidence. It just so happened that during the middle of the summer, salmon was in abundance in rivers throughout the region, so it was a common sight on tables at the time. It eventually got lumped in to the Fourth and has stayed that way ever since, even with the decline of Atlantic salmon.

To serve salmon the traditional New England way, you'll have to pair it with some green peas. And if you're really striving for 18th-century authenticity, enjoy the whole meal with some turtle soup, like John and Abigail Adams supposedly did on the first Fourth of July. (You can still be a patriot without the soup, though.)

4. MASSACHUSETTS WAS THE FIRST STATE TO RECOGNIZE THE HOLIDAY.

Massachusetts recognized the Fourth of July as an official holiday on July 3, 1781, making it the first state to do so. It wasn't until June 28, 1870 that Congress decided to start designating federal holidays [PDF], with the first four being New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. This decreed that those days were holidays for federal employees.

However, there was a distinction. The Fourth was a holiday "within the District of Columbia" only. It would take years of new legislation to expand the holiday to all federal employees.

5. THE OLDEST ANNUAL FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION IS HELD IN BRISTOL, RHODE ISLAND.

Eighty-five years before the Fourth of July was even recognized as a federal holiday, one tradition began that continues to this day. Billed as "America's Oldest Fourth of July Celebration," the town of Bristol, Rhode Island, has been doing Independence Day right since 1785.

The festivities began just two years after the Revolutionary War ended, and 2017 will be its 232nd entry. Over the years the whole thing has expanded well beyond July 4; the town of 23,000 residents now begins to celebrate the United States on Flag Day, June 14, all the way through to the 2.5-mile July 4 parade. What began as a "patriotic exercise"—meaning church services—has morphed into a cavalcade of parades, live music, food, and other activities.

6. AND THE SHORTEST PARADE IS IN APTOS, CALIFORNIA.

From the oldest to the shortest, the Fourth of July parade in Aptos, California, is just a hair over half a mile long. Taking up two city blocks, and measuring just .6 miles, this brief bit of patriotism features antique cars, decorated trucks, and plenty of walkers. Afterward, there's a Party in the Park, where folks can enjoy live music, food, and games.

7. THERE ARE AROUND 15,000 INDEPENDENCE DAY FIREWORKS CELEBRATIONS EVERY YEAR.

Fireworks burst over New York City.
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According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, around 15,000 fireworks displays will take place for the Fourth of July holiday (even if some aren't exactly on July 4). Though pricing varies, most small towns spend anywhere from $8000-$15,000 for a fireworks display, with larger cities going into the millions, like the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular at around $2.5 million.

8. WE'LL EAT AN OBSCENE AMOUNT OF HOT DOGS.

Around 150 million, to be more specific—that's how many hot dogs will be consumed by Americans on the Fourth of July. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, that amount of dogs can stretch from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles more than five times.

In 2016, 70 of those dogs were scarfed down by Joey Chestnut, who won the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition for the ninth time.

9. AND WE'LL SPEND BILLIONS ON FOOD.

Americans will spend big on food and drinks this Fourth. Big to the tune of around $7.1 billion when all is said and done, according to the National Retail Federation. This includes food and other cookout expenses, averaging out to about $73 per person participating in a barbecue, outdoor cookout or picnic.

Then comes the booze. The Beer Institute estimates that Americans will spend around $1 billion on beer for their Fourth celebrations, and more than $450 million on wine.

10. THREE PRESIDENTS HAVE DIED, AND ONE WAS BORN, ON THE FOURTH.

You probably know that both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826—50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was adopted. They're not the only presidents to have died on the Fourth, though; James Monroe—the nation’s fifth president—died just a few years later on July 4, 1831.

Though the holiday might seem like it has it out for former presidents, there was one future leader born on Independence Day. The country's 30th Commander-in-Chief, Calvin Coolidge, was born on July 4, 1872.

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These Digital Fireworks Displays Can Help You Celebrate July 4 Wherever You Live
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Every Fourth of July needs to be capped off with a dazzling fireworks display, but depending on where you live, getting to one isn’t always easy. Many states have strict laws around which fireworks you can and can’t use on your own, and if there’s no public show in your town, you may be totally out of luck.

If you’re still craving a show, though, AtmosFX’s digital fireworks displays may be your best bet. These digital, animated fireworks shows can be downloaded from the company’s site where you can then either display them on your TV or project them onto surfaces around your home or backyard. The video options available allow for some customization, so you can either stick with a generic fireworks display or choose some patriotic colors along with a "Happy Fourth of July" message.

The company’s various digital fireworks videos come in at a 1080p HD resolution with sound effects that can be adjusted and customized—which is the perfect alternative to those decibel-busting fireworks displays designed to frighten your beloved pets. Some videos are meant to be displayed on TVs and monitors, while others are for wall projections and window displays. You can buy these à la carte for $6.99 each, or together in a package for $20.

Whether you live in an apartment, a state that prohibits fireworks, or are expecting some wet weather for your Independence Day party, look into a digital alternative by heading to the AtmosFX website.

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