Tag Archives: Work and Travel

J1 Taxes Explained

 

J-1 participants receive compensation from their host organization (employer). They will have to apply for a social security number and pay income tax.

The question frequently asked is, “But exactly which taxes do J-1 participants have to pay?”

J-1 visa holders are considered non-resident aliens and are required to pay federal, state and local income taxes. However, they are generally exempt from paying FUTA and FICA taxes. The logic is that they cannot be “unemployed” (if their program were terminated, their visas would be canceled and they would need to return to their home country immediately). Likewise, they are not able to enjoy social security benefits and are not required to pay into the system. Details on FUTA exemption can be found in 2010 IRS Publication 15, page 36 (section “students, scholars, trainees, teachers”). Details on FICA exemption can be found in IRS Publication 519 (Chapter 1 “Exempt Individual” and chapter 8 “Paying Tax through Withholding or Estimated Tax”, section “Social Security and Medicare Taxes”; “Students and Exchange Visitors”).

How does this effect you as the employer:  As the J-1 visa holder is exempt from paying FUTA and FICA taxes, the employer does not have to pay the matching contribution.

Looking to hire a J1 student to assist you with your seasonal staffing needs?  Visit our employer hiring page for more information by clicking here.

Have a question?  you can always reach the main office at 718-606-1892.

I am my business – Happy New Year

 

Hello from LifExchange. I am Shari – owner, operator, marketer and inspired entrepreneur. I am my business. I love to travel and it has changed my life!

The more I think about my new blog series that I have decided to title “I am my business,” the more I begin to realize just how many memories and experiences have shaped who I am. My first lesson learned is a common saying, never take life too seriously.  I thought this was a good topic to begin the New Year.

The first time I tested this lesson while traveling for work was in 2006 – I was headed to Almaty, , then Istanbul, and on to Ankara in Turkey from NY with layovers in Frankfurt (twice) and Vienna. This was my first international business trip with my new job and it was not like anything I could have imagined. After 16+ hours of travel I arrived in Almaty after midnight (not looking or smelling all too pretty). I was greeted at customs by daunting men and women with guns. With some hindsight that is not so uncommon these days but after two layovers, the flight did not end with a warm fuzzy welcome as we were ushered through a long and chaotic customs line. I was with a client (and now friend) named Ashley. Making sure I looked like I was in control, I directed Ashley through customs and we were met by one of our hosts outside of baggage claim with a sign. At a little past 1:00 a.m. we arrived in what looked like a 3 star hotel where my new boss, James, greeted us and helped check us into our rooms. This is where it all began….

Ashley heads to her room and James says to drop off my bags and meet him and our other clients in the hotel bar for a nightcap. Picture this – I walk into my room and my first thought is “What did I sign-up for?”  There is a hole in the ceiling above the bed. Okay, it is a new country; I have to be open to my living conditions. As I lay my bags down I go to use the bathroom. I turn to wash my hands but there is no sink. I feel dirty, grimy and tired and just want to clean up. Do you know the feeling? As I circle the bathroom in a perplexed state, I spot it. The sorta-kinda dish that is used as a sink to catch water is in what looks like a shower. Alright, I am only here three days, I can make this work. I walk back into the main bedroom and reach for a sweater, it is a bit drafty and I am cold. Maybe if I can close my balcony’s sliding glass door all the way I can get rid of this chill….that was my thought as the screen door came crashing down on me, falling into the room.

Not even knowing what to do and with no English speaker at the front desk I head to the bar to see my boss. I found James and said there may be a few problems in my room and I do not know how to request a change. His first thought (which he shared with me years later) was that he had a Prima Donna, a princess as a new employee; what had he gotten himself into? He generously appeased me and came to the room. One look at his face and I knew I was not crazy…this was no three-star room. My paint chipped, mold-smelling room with screen door issues was declared unfit. We retrieved my bags and headed back to the front desk where James found someone to get me a new room. (I learned later I was on one of the few floors not yet remodeled.) Now heading upstairs again, I begin to relax. I think to myself, drop off the bag and go meet my travel companions.  If only it were that easy….

I turn the key and search for a switch to turn on the light. I struggle inside, find a lamp and turn it on but the lamp is not the only item there…I also find a foreign elderly woman at least 65+, in bed with no covers, naked, who looks up at me startled. As I back away and apologize she starts to scream, yell, and chase me. This woman knows no English and she begins to follow me (yes, still naked) out of the room screaming, angry and probably a little afraid. Which is funnier – the nice old women who will tell her friends she was woken from her sleep by the crazy American breaking into her room, or my running down the hall dragging a suitcase, back pack and coat screaming apologies to a naked women who cannot understand me?

As I made my way to the elevator, I did not go to the front desk, I did not inform anyone. I mean let’s face it: someone was going to be searching for a young American woman breaking into hotel rooms sooner or later so I might as well head to the bar and meet everyone else. It is now 3:00 a.m. and I walk into the bar. Let’s be clear, by “bar” I mean small cafeteria-looking square room with a few fake wood tables and a counter to order drinks. I sit down as my colleagues look at me. “Don’t ask” I say, then I order a glass of house red wine.*  As I finish my glass of wine, the hotel front desk worker finally came running into the bar looking for me. I won’t drag this out but after that I was upgraded to a nice room that was 5 x 10 with a twin bed no springs and an actual sink. Now for a little rest before my big day, we had a presentation for over 300 university students at 8:30am the next morning and then 8+ hours of interviews to follow.

I could have dwelled on the awful hotel, the bad service, the fact that a “western” marketed hotel had no English speakers and that I only had 3 hours of sleep before my first 16-hour work day – but I didn’t. I could have let the late night bleed into my trip – but I didn’t.  Instead, I remember drinking and laughing with my new boss over the naked lady running down the hall in Kazakhstan, and I remember the amazing international students I met and hired to come spend the summer in the U.S.  I remember the beginning of a lifelong and treasured friendship with Ashley.  I remember eating amazing new foods such as beshparmak and shawarma.  I went Ice Skating at Medeu (see below for information).  Medeu was the most beautiful outdoor Ice Skating rink I have ever visited.  It was peaceful, it was grand, and with the crowd of families and young couples it was playful, too.

This may have only been the first 24 hours of my trip, but it was also the first 24 hours of my new life.  My passion for people and travel, new sights, and new tastes began in these first hours and started the many adventures that shaped who I am. Watch for my next “I am my business” blog to learn more about my journies and the lessons I have learned.

On this first trip I learned the importance of never taking life too seriously.  I have been surprised as I reflect on my memories with laughter and continued to learn from my experiences.

 

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* While in Almaty I had one of the best wines I have ever tasted.  I do not remember the vineyard (so I know I am no help) but it was a Georgian Wine. 
 
On a side note we did have time before flying to Turkey to visit Medeu. A must visit if you ever find yourself in Almaty. The ice skating rink Medeu is located 1,691.2 meters above sea level making it the highest rink in the world. This world-known sports complex was erected in 1972. The ice surface occupies 10.5 thousand sq.m., which allows to conduct contests in skating sport, hockey and figure skating. Before this rink was updated in 2011 for the Asian Olympics you could skate around and have beer and cigarette venders sell you drinks while you skated.

Top 10 places to visit in Australia this winter – Number 7

Re-posted from our sister site LifExchange Campus:

With so many places to visit and things to do no one can explore Australia with only a two weeks vacation. Over the next 10 weeks we will share new destinations to be explored on your 6-12 month LifExchange Work and Holiday program.

Winter is almost here in the US. Head down south for another summer and skip the cold.

Australia’s Summer Invites You! Experience Australia’s glorious summer from December to February. Walk along spectacular coastal cliffs from Sydney’s Bondi Beach to Bronte. Day trip from Melbourne to the vineyards, beaches, national parks, golf courses and day spas of the Mornington Peninsula. Taste Tasmania’s finest food and wine on the historic Hobart waterfront or explore food, wine and history in the Swan Valley, near Perth. Follow fresh seafood around the pristine coastline of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula or watch coral spawning en-masse on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef. Experience dazzling thunderstorms and blossoming vegetation in the tropical Top End. Or get up close to native Australian animals and ancient Aboriginal history in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, near Canberra. Summer in Australia is also the season for world class cricket, grand slam tennis, vibrant music festivals, NYE celebrations and outdoor cultural events.

WE CONTINUE OUR COUNTDOWN WITH NUMBER 7: South Summer in the Swan Valley

Summer in the Swan Valley is all about the good life. Drive to family-run wineries and boutique breweries or visit them on a luxury cruise up the Swan River. Dine alfresco in vineyard restaurants or spread out a gourmet picnic in the parklands. Explore the charming colonial village of Guildford, shop for art and antiques and travel back to the 19th century with a night in heritage-listed accommodation. The area is also home to wildlife sanctuaries, rambling countryside and national parks to walk, horse ride and cycle through.

Sitting north of Perth on the tranquil Swan River, the Swan Valley is Western Australia’s oldest wine region. Many of the 40 wineries are small, family operations, where you can chat to the grandchildren of the Croatian and Italian migrants who founded the region in the 1920s. Others are international labels with vast vineyards and state-of-the-art cellars. Contrast and compare the region’s specialities, such as verdelho, chenin blanc, chardonnay, shiraz, cabernet and fortifieds. Explore the region by bus, horse-drawn wagon, black cab or chauffeured car. Join a gourmet cruise from Perth or self- drive the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail.

After the wineries, taste boutique beer at the four microbreweries or electrify your tastebuds with canefire rum or chilli-flavoured vodka at the distilleries. Dine amongst the vines in a winery restaurant or in a rustic café overlooking the countryside. Try hand-made truffles in the local chocolate factory and stock up on succulent summer grapes – a regional specialty – from roadside stalls. Add them to a picnic hamper loaded with local cheese, olives, tapenades, jumbo strawberries, juicy rockmelon and vine-ripened tomatoes. Lay out your feast next to the Avon River at Bells Rapids, at Middle Swan Bridge or amongst the banksia bushland of vast Whiteman Park.

However you get here, don’t miss a visit to charming Guildford, at the gateway to the Swan Valley and circled by the Swan and Helena Rivers. With polo fields, cafes serving Devonshire tea and buildings dating back to the 1840s, Guildford’s colonial past is ever-present. Take a heritage walk around the village or join a guided tour of Woodbridge House, where a prosperous 19th century family once lived. Browse the antique stores and art galleries along James Street and catch the monthly craft market at Guildford Town Hall. See local potters at work in an old cottage and view classic art works in a grand heritage-listed home. Spend a night in one of Guildford’s historic lodgings, which range from Western Australia’s oldest home to the federation-style pub. You can even cycle from Guildford to Swan Valley on the Swan Valley Heritage Trail.

You can also base yourself in neighbouring Midland, which also retains its heritage character. Or head deeper into the Swan Valley to Gidgegannup, which sits nestled amongst wildflower-sprinkled forests and native bush. All make good bases for adventure across the region’s many natural attractions. Wind through the jarrah, marri and wandoo woodlands in Berry Reserve. Hike, horse ride or cycle through similar scenery in John Forrest National, one of Australia’s oldest conservation areas. Get up close to koalas, kangaroos and dingos in the wildlife park in Caversham and see crocodiles being fed in the reptile park in Henley Brook. Lying to the valley’s north are Walyunga National Park in the Darling Range and Avon Valley National Park, a popular spot for white water rafting and canoeing.

This summer, combine sunshine with food, wine, history and idyllic scenery in the Swan Valley.

Are you ready to head to Australia now? If you are between the ages of 18-30 you may qualify for a Work and Holiday Visa. Pay for your travels, build your resume and make new friends. Contact us now to learn more.

Information provided by © Tourism Australia 2011

Top 10 places to visit in Australia this winter – Number 9

Re-posted from our sister site: LifExchange Campus

With so many places to visit and things to do no one can explore Australia with only a two weeks vacation. Over the next 10 weeks we will share new destinations to be explored on your 6-12 month LifExchange Work and Holiday program.
Winter is almost here in the US. Head down south for another summer and skip the cold.
Australia’s Summer Invites You! Experience Australia’s glorious summer from December to February. Walk along spectacular coastal cliffs from Sydney’s Bondi Beach to Bronte. Day trip from Melbourne to the vineyards, beaches, national parks, golf courses and day spas of the Mornington Peninsula. Taste Tasmania’s finest food and wine on the historic Hobart waterfront or explore food, wine and history in the Swan Valley, near Perth. Follow fresh seafood around the pristine coastline of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula or watch coral spawning en-masse on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef. Experience dazzling thunderstorms and blossoming vegetation in the tropical Top End. Or get up close to native Australian animals and ancient Aboriginal history in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, near Canberra. Summer in Australia is also the season for world class cricket, grand slam tennis, vibrant music festivals, NYE celebrations and outdoor cultural events.

WE CONTINUE OUR COUNTDOWN WITH NUMBER 9: Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne’s summer playground

Life really is a breeze on the Mornington Peninsula, a summer paradise dotted with seaside villages, vineyards, beaches, national parks, galleries, golf courses, day spas and restaurants. Offering romance, relaxation, indulgence and adventure, it’s easy to see why Melbournians love this place for a week or weekend escape.

It’s an hour drive around Port Phillip Bay from Melbourne to Frankston, where the chain of dreamy holiday towns and golden beaches begin. Visit Mornington, where yachts bob in the harbour, and stroll along the tranquil beaches of Mount Martha, Safety Beach and Dromana. Spot the colourful beach boxes that line the sands along the peninsula. Swim with dolphins in historic Sorrento or join Melbourne’s A-listers in the cosmopolitan cafes of Portsea. Both Sorrento and Portsea sit on the peninsula’s tip, between gentle bay beaches and the spectacular surf of Bass Strait.

There’s no shortage of things to do along this enchanting coastline. If walking tops your list, see staggering coastal views and kangaroos on a cliff-top walk through Mornington Peninsula National Park. Follow the Fort Nepean Walk past the labyrinth of tunnels guarding Port Phillip Bay. Or take the Bushrangers Bay Trail to Cape Schanck Lighthouse, past basalt promontory and rockpools. Climb to the summit of Arthurs Seat State Park, where you can survey the bay and Melbourne skyline. For a true challenge, the Two Bays Trail winds 26km through bushland and beach. It’s the peninsula’s longest continuous walking track, linked by boardwalks, steps, bridges and grass paths.

Off shore, you can snorkel or scuba dive with fish, sea dragons, soft coral and even submerged World War I submarines in the marine park around Port Phillip Heads. Spot fur seals, dolphins and gannets on a wildlife cruise from Sorrento. November to March is snapper season, and you can fish from piers lining the bay, from the wild ocean beaches or on a charter into the Bass Strait. Surf the back beaches of Sorrento and Portsea or at Rye, Point Leo or Gunnamatta Beach. Gallop through Gunnamatta’s crashing waves on horseback, or horse ride at Arthurs Seat, Cape Schanck, Red Hill or Sommerville.

When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the hinterland. You’ll find a picturesque winery region, with 170 vineyards and 50 cellar doors clustered around Red Hill, Merricks, Balnarring, Moorooduc, Shoreham and Main Ridge. Sample the hallmark pinot noir and chardonnay and visit the microbrewery. Buy organic vegetable from roadside stalls or pick your own strawberries, berries and cherries from orchards between November and April. Wander olive groves with ocean views or picnic in one of the many public and private gardens. There are century-old rose gardens, sculpted hedge mazes and the manicured lawns of heritage homes to relax next to.

When you’ve had your fill of fine wine and food, get pampered at a day spa in Mornington, Red Hill, Fingal, Rye or Portsea. Or play a round of golf on the lush, world-class, pro-designed courses spread across the peninsula. Try the unique coastal course in Flinders or enjoy the carnival atmosphere of the Portsea Cascade Pro-Am 2009 in January. If art, craft and collectable attracts you, browse the huge antique collection in a converted apple store in Tyabb. Check out the work of local artists in galleries in Mornington, Sorrento and Flinders and see paintings inspired by the scenery on the Coastal Art Trail around Port Phillip Bay.

During summer, the Mornington Peninsula is abuzz with all nature of events. See boats sail past the peninsula in the Melbourne to Hobart yacht race in late December. Cheer from the beach for the Portsea Swim Classic or the Rye Pole to Pier Swim, both in January. The same month, celebrate music at the Briars Park Jazz Festival in Mount Martha, the Red Hill Country Music Festival or the Coolart Jazz Festival in Somers. Enjoy a showcase of the peninsula’s bountiful fresh produce at the Dromana Strawberry Festival and Frankston Sea Festival in January and Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir Celebration in February.

However you experience this summer playground, you won’t run out of things to do.

Are you ready to head to Australia? If you are between the ages of 18-30 you may qualify for a Work and Holiday Visa. Pay for your travels, build your resume and make new friends. Contact us now to learn more.

Information provided by © Tourism Australia 2011

Plan your Work and Holiday Adventure to Australia in a few simple steps.

Why sign up for a Work and Holiday Program?

Earn money while traveling, build your resume and have new adventures.

Step 1:  Book your Work and Holiday program – Doing it all yourself can cost a lot of money and time.  Use a company that offers a lot of assistance and inclusions to make your time smooth and planning easy.  For information check out the LifExchange, Global Work and Travel Work and Holiday package that includes everything you will need to land a job, have housing assistance and to be prepared as you make your journey.
Step 2:  Apply for your Work and Holiday Visa as early as 60 day before you plan to travel.  You can apply for your Work and Holiday visa online directly with the Australian Government.  The process can take as little as two weeks as long as you meet all the eligibility requirements and have an up to date valid US passport.  To apply online visit: https://www.ecom.immi.gov.au/visas/app/uu?form=WH
Step 3:  Organize your flight – Booking your flight is best to do after you have spoken to your Work and Holiday Program operator.  They can tell you when the start dates are for your preferred employment and suggest the best arrival time.  They may also know what airlines offer special deals or fly most often from your departure region.
Step 4: Travel Insurance – Travellers heading overseas are strongly advised to purchase travel insurance. Medical costs can be very expensive when travelling internationally, and many companies will not let you depart on a tour if you do not have sufficient insurance coverage. To ensure your peace of mind and protection in the event of an emergency, we strongly recommend getting insurance.   Travel insurance can cover things such as health, medical, travel (incl. lost luggage and documents), special events, and emergency evacuation.  Click here to request more information.
Step 5:  Learn more about Australia before you head out.  Check out these recommended guides!
Step 6:  Read about other peoples experience participating on Work Abroad programs around the world.  Visit LifExchange testimonial page or read this great article from Matador Network written by a work abroad Australia traveler.
Step 7:  Have an adventure of a lifetime!  Make sure you take advantage of the opportunities to visit local sites, meet new people and most of all HAVE FUN!

Tips to NYC travel

Once you have completed your Work and Travel program successfully you may choose to travel in the US before returning home to University.  For many LifExchange participants NYC is on your list of places to visit.

Here are some tips to assist you with your planning

The Basics:

Buying a metro card:  We recommend you but an unlimited 7 day pass for $29.00.  This allows you to travel 24 hours per day for 7 days anywhere I the city for one cost.  Find out more at the MTA.  Taxis are not cheap – with the heavy New York traffic and the compulsory tip, expect to pay $10 for even a short cab ride.
Accommodations:  For cheap accommodations look up http://AirBnB.com for in home stays, or for a little less visit http://Hostelworld.com.  Both of these options are cheaper than a hotel unless you are traveling in a group and willing to share a hotel room.  Depending on the dates, Hostels can be found for around $30 – $45 a night, depending on whether you want a private or shared room. Book your accommodation before you travel, especially in peak season.
Food: Most hostels don’t serve breakfast, so a diner breakfast will set you back about $10 – not including the tip. New Yorkers don’t do things by halves – and this includes their food portions.  Try the street vendors, there are a lot of great meals you will find for less then $5.00.  China town and the East village are also great neighborhoods for great finds.  Want to splurge and treat yourself to something great?  Visit Open Table for suggestions and reservations.

Things to do:

The Statue of Liberty – (http://www.statueoflibertytickets.com/) ferries for the Statue leave every 25 minutes from 8.30am-4.30pm from Battery Park. Perhaps the most recognizable icon of the USA, expect a long wait with queuing and security checks before boarding the ferry.  The ferry continues on to Ellis Island, where you might find a long lost family member on the Immigrant Wall of Honour.
The Staten Island Ferry is free- and while there is not much to see on Staten Island you will get stunning views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan Skyline. This ferry runs 24 hours a day.
Central Park – Probably the only place in the city you’ll find some peace and quiet. It would take a week to view the whole of this park, but try and fit in a few of the highlights during your stay. Strawberry Fields, dedicated to the late John Lennon, is worth a visit and the Jackie Onassis Reservoir is beautiful on a sunny day.
New York Public Library – Worth a visit if only to view the two famous stone lions sitting outside – said to represent Patience and Fortitude. Oh, and it’s free.
Ground Zero- For decades, the World Trade Centre was the most visible tourist attraction in Lower Manhattan. Post 9/11, the site is surrounded by a Viewing Wall, that allows visitors to see the rebuilding that is now underway. The names of the 9/11 victims are included within the wall.

Cheap Stuff

Although New York is an expensive city, there are plenty of things you can do for free or cheap. The city is best seen on foot. In addition to the most current cheap options listed below, check out The Skint for day to day activities and options for great stuff to do in NY.

Among the free things to do are Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, the Staten Island Ferry, most national park sites many of the museums, some guided tours, and all TV show tapings.
 Studio tickets for SNL, Daily Show, Letterman and more
Tickets to other shows taped in NYC are easier to snag and usually for free. Here’s an updated list of shows that tape with a live audience in NYC:
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Colbert Report
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Late Show with David Letterman
Good Morning America
The Early Show
The View
Live! with Regis and Kelly
The Martha Stewart Show
The Rachel Ray Show
The Dr. Oz Show
The Wendy Williams Show
MTV studio audience
Who Wants to be a Millionaire
The Marriage Ref
The Tyra Banks Show
Comedy Central Presents
Other resources:
On Friday mornings during the summer both Today Show and Good Morning America offer free outdoor concerts. Usually no tickets are required.
The automated Twitter feed @DailyTix tweets when new tickets are available for the John Stewart or Stephen Colbert shows.
Free hours at NYC museums, zoos and gardens
Museums with free or pay-what-you-wish hours in 2011
Mondays
Museum at Eldridge Street – Free 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (normally $10)
Yeshiva University Museum – Free 5 to 8 p.m. (normally $8)
Tuesdays
McKim rooms of the Morgan Library & Museum – free 3 to 5 p.m. (full museum access is $15)
Brooklyn Botanic Garden – Free all day (normally $10)
China Institute Gallery – Free 6 to 8 p.m. (normally $7)
Staten Island Museum – Free noon to 2 p.m. (normally $3)
Wednesdays
Bronx Zoo – Pay-what-you-wish donation all day (normally $16)
Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust – Free 4 to 8 p.m. (normally $12)
El Museo del Barrio – Free 6 to 9 p.m. (normally a suggested $9)
Staten Island Zoo – Free 2 to 4:45 p.m. (normally $8)
Yeshiva University Museum – Free 5 to 8 p.m. (normally $8)
NY Botanical Garden – Free grounds access all day, but excludes the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, Rock and Native Plant gardens and tram tour (grounds-only access normally $6)
Van Cortlandt House Museum – Free all day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (normally $5)
Queens Botanical Garden – Free from 3 to 6 p.m. (normally $4)

4th of July Celebrations

Why do we celebrate the 4th of July? 

Imagine how you would feel if someone older than you (maybe an older sister or brother) kept telling you what to do all the time and kept taking more and more of your allowance. That is how the colonists felt in the years leading up to 1776. Great Britain kept trying to make the colonists follow more rules and pay higher taxes. People started getting mad and began making plans to be able to make their own rules. They no longer wanted Great Britain to be able to tell them what to do, so they decided to tell Great Britain that they were becoming an independent country. (To be independent means to take care of yourself, making your own rules and providing for your own needs.)

The Congress met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and they appointed a committee (a group of people working together to do a specific job) to write a formal document that would tell Great Britain that the Americans had decided to govern themselves. The committee asked Thomas Jefferson to write a draft (first try) of the document, so he worked for days, in absolute secret, until he had written a document that he thought said everything important that the committee had discussed. On June 28, 1776, the committee met to read Jefferson’s “fair” copy (he put his best ideas together and wrote them neatly.) They revised (made some changes) the document and declared their independence on July 2, 1776. They officially adopted it (made it theirs) on July 4, 1776. That is why we call it “Independence Day.”

Americans celebrate that freedom and independence with barbecues, picnics, and family gatherings.  Please find below a list of locations near where you may work that you can view fireworks, join a picnic or create your own.

OCEAN CITY MARYLAND North

Enjoy a free concert at 8 p.m., followed by fireworks at 9:30 p.m. uptown at 127th Street at Northside Park. For more information, please call 1-800-626-2326 or the Ocean City Department of Recreation & Parks at 410-250-0125.

OCEAN CITY MARYLAND South

Enjoy a free concert at 8 p.m., followed by fireworks at 9:30 p.m. downtown on the beach at North Division Street. For more information, please call 1-800-626-2326 or the Ocean City Department of Recreation & Parks at 410-250-0125.

COROLLA, NC – Outer Banks

The Corolla Annual Independence Day Festival of Fireworks will begin at 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Whalehead Club.  Fireworks begin at dusk but arrive early to enjoy food, fun activities, fabulous music and find a place for your blankets and chairs to settle in for the best fireworks on the Outer Banks! Admission and Parking are free. For more information visit www.whaleheadclub.com or call (252) 453-9040.

NAGS HEAD and KILL DEVIL HILL AREA, NC – Outer Banks

Town of Manteo – Outdoor Pavilion at Roanoke Island Festival Park. 8 p.m. Featuring the North Carolina National Guard’s 440th Army Band. The performance is free and open to the public. (252) 475-1500 or roanokeisland.com

DUCK, NC – Outer Banks

9 a.m. Duck’s seventh annual Fourth of July Parade will be held on Monday, July 4, 2011 at 9:00 a.m., with an after-event following at the Duck Town Park featuring community fun, music, watermelon, and the awarding of parade trophies. The one-mile parade route is the same annually and begins at the crest of the hill on Scarborough Lane and continues down Ocean Way and then Christopher Drive. Please plan to arrive at least 1/2 hour early to get the best parade viewing spot! (252) 255-1234, info@townofduck.com, townofduck.com

WELLFLEET, MASS – Cape Cod

9 a.m. Parade (starts at the Town Pier)  This year’s theme is ‘HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY TO THE NATIONAL SEASHORE’  (chosen by children at the Wellfleet Elementary School). Fireworks are in Provincetown at 9:00pm

NEW YORK CITY

The 2011 Macy’s will begin at approximately 9:20 pm on July 4th, the 26-minute display will be set off from six barges positioned between 20th and 55th Streets on the Hudson River. That’s two full miles of sky, providing for greater visibility of the show for millions more spectators. On the West Side of Manhattan.

LifExchange wishes you a safe and happy holiday!!!!