Every year, Rick Florez of Taylorsville pulls out his American flag-patterned shirt in honor of Independence Day.

"I wear this same shirt every Fourth," Florez says with a smile as he pats his chest. As a personal tradition, Florez has been donning the collared, patriotic shirt for the past 10 years in honor of his country's independence.

No matter the tradition — whether it is a family of four wearing matching Old Navy flag shirts at a Murray parade or an endless barbecue in the park, the reason for the day will never change. However, Florez feels celebration of the holiday has changed since he was a child. "It is just another holiday to other people (now)," Florez said.

George Cutchins, Florez's son-in-law, recently came back from a military tour of duty in Korea. Cutchins has been serving overseas off and on for the past 10 years in the U.S. Air Force. While he is still on active duty, he is thankful to finally be back with his family.

"It isn't the same over (in Korea). Here you have family, there you just have friends," Cutchins said about celebrating the holiday in West Jordan this year.

Sanford Rosenthal, a retired veteran who served in Korea, Vietnam and parts of the eastern Pacific, celebrated the nation's independence by helping inform and assist war veterans at a Veterans of Foreign Wars booth at West Jordan's city carnival on Saturday.

"This day means a celebration of freedom, and it brings back memories of those dead that were my friends," Rosenthal said. He said he looks at the names on military memorial walls and "still to this day I get very emotional."

Rosenthal feels this country is great because of our "forefathers who made a cause for independence."

While some families have deep-rooted traditions for celebrating national freedom, others just like to sit back and relax.

Bonnie and Jim Feser of Sandy like to just stay in one place for the day. Bonnie sat on a folding chair in the summer sun watching her grandchildren play on an inflatable bouncer at the South Towne Promenade Saturday morning.

Feser said they don't have any long-standing family traditions for the day but made today's gathering a spur-of-the moment family affair after seeing a list of activities in the Deseret News.

One family tradition has lasted generations for Dan Ivins and his family. The Ivins family stakes out a spot in the morning and barbecues the afternoon away until the evening fireworks show at Sugarhouse Park.

"We have been coming to this exact spot since we were little kids," said Ivins, who now has a family of his own.

Ivins' son, Justin Morrison, 8, of Salt Lake City said, "I don't know why we celebrate today, but I like the fireworks." His sister, Martaya Case, 11, enjoys her family being together for the holiday. "It's pretty fun. We like hanging out together to watch the fireworks and have a barbecue."

Because of a lack of funds and improvement projects, the Sugar House Park Authority has decided to have this be the last year it will pay for the fireworks show.

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"It is a shame this is the last year," Ivins said. "This used to be a tradition for us."

Ivins said he wants to start a new tradition where a bunch of neighbors will get together and set off fireworks.

Ivins said the celebration helps bring families together.

E-MAIL: cneugebauer@desnews.com