I took this blurry snapshot during this year's Independence Day celebration at Albany's Empire State Plaza. The dude in front of me says it all: Bring ear plugs.
I carry a little box of earplugs with me everywhere. It's smaller than a stick of gum, and it protects my ears from the 88-126 decibel blasts of American pride - not to mention power tools, vacuum cleaners, motorcycles, and boring people at parties. Beethoven may have composed music when he was deaf, but he'd have had a hard time sitting down behind a mixing board.