Why everything is the worst when July 4 is on a Tuesday

The Declaration of Independence (1819), John Trumbull.
The Declaration of Independence (1819), John Trumbull.
Published Jun. 30, 2017

Welcome back to the mid-week Fourth of July holiday.

This year it's on a Tuesday, but settle in. Next up is a Wednesday and a Thursday. Independence day returns to a sweet, merciful Saturday in 2020.

Want a long weekend for Independence Day before then? For those who work Monday to Friday, it's going to require burning a coveted vacation day or two, or planning that full vacation on this most busy and expensive of summer travel weeks.

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This was almost narrowly avoided 50 years ago, when the United States moved some holidays to Monday. How did the Fourth get left off? More in a minute.

This year, most local fireworks displays and parades will take place on the Fourth proper, though New Port Richey, Land O' Lakes and Sarasota have opted for Saturday. Organizers of Tampa and St. Petersburg's largest displays have considered moving theirs, but say fireworks on July 4 draw the largest crowd.

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County governments are all over the place. Monday is just another day for Hillsborough County workers. In Pinellas, most county offices are open Monday, but Tax Collector and Property Appraiser's offices are shuttered. In Pasco County, government shuts down completely for an extra, paid holiday day.

"It's a situation where you'd have a lot of employees asking for the day off on Monday, so if the office is open, you're going to have to deny a lot of vacation requests," said Barbara Hitzemann, Pasco County director of human resources. "You'd have people spread out, working without supervisors. It just makes more sense operationally to shut down."

For some, the best option is to suck it up and work a weird Monday, sandwiched between days off.

"It's better than no day off at all. I made it a four-day weekend," said Beau Audirsch, who is taking Monday off from his job as an accountant in St. Petersburg.

But when do you celebrate? Party too hard on Tuesday and you might return to work Wednesday sunburned, hungover or still suffering the gastrointestinal side-effects of that hot dog-eating contest.

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Pasco County has a policy that employees who call in sick the day after a holiday, and aren't legitimately ill, don't receive holiday pay. They need to provide a doctor's note.

"If you don't have a policy like that in place, you'll have a lot of sick people after every holiday," Hitzemann said.

Some employers get creative to stop people from missing work on Monday.

"Since we're a fulfillment and logistics company, we can't very well close," said Jan Bednar, CEO of ShipMonk in Deerfield Beach. "As such, we are incentivizing coming to work ... . We have a fully stocked bar that will be in full-effect, a ping-pong tournament, and a water-balloon fight."

Velocity Resource Group in Tampa is closed on Monday.

"It's an expense when you have 45 or 50 employees" said company cofounder John Fortino. "But we get that back from them in spades," he said.

In Spain, concern over mid-week holidays hurting the economy got so bad in recent years that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy proposed moving all Spanish holidays to Mondays to eliminate the "puente," or bridge, the Spanish term for the extra day off.

As for the United States? Here's what happened.

In 1968, U.S. Rep. Robert McClory, R-Ill., introduced legislation that became the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. In 1971, it permanently moved Washington's Birthday (Feb. 22) and Memorial Day (formerly May 30) to designated Mondays, creating the annual three-day weekend.

But McClory wanted more. His original legislation included Independence Day, which would move to the first Monday in July.

Mike McClory remembers discussing it with his late father over tennis.

"His argument was that evidence suggests the Declaration of Independence we're all familiar with, that says July 4, was printed after the fact, and that the date independence was actually declared was likely July 2," he said. "So he thought that date, July 4, didn't have to be carved in granite, because nobody really knows exactly."

But there was opposition. Some felt it was "sacrilegious" to celebrate the nation's birthday on any day but the Fourth. It was removed from the bill, which later passed by a fairly large majority.

"I think my father's original bill was the right idea," Mike McClory said. "I think there would have been a fuss at the time, but it would have died down. There would be no fuss anymore. The day would be referred to as Independence Day, rather than Fourth of July, which has become pretty much all firecrackers now anyway. It would have actually helped keep true spirit of the holiday intact."

Even those willing to shake things up, aren't ready to go that far. Nancy Brotko is interim director at New Port Richey Main Street, holding its Independence Day celebration on Saturday.

"Moving Fourth of July would be like moving Christmas," Brotko said. "It wouldn't feel right."

For the record July 4, 1776 was a Thursday.

Contact Christopher Spata at or (727) 893-8719. Follow @SpataTimes.