Independence Day is nearly upon us, and contrary to some complaints, there’s plenty to do over the holiday week in Rio Rancho.

Plus, a lot of it is free!

On July 4, the Independence Day parade takes place in City Center at 10 a.m. It’s free to watch, and free for kids ages 5-15 to enter the bike-decorating contest that’s part of the parade.

Contest registration starts at 9 a.m. in the upper parking lot on the southwest side of Santa Ana Star Center. Just make sure your child wears a helmet — it’s a contest rule.

That evening at 6, another free celebration starts at Loma Colorado Park. The whole family can listen to live music, including the New Mexico Army National Guard’s 44th Army Band, and then watch an elaborate fireworks show beginning at 9.

Feel free to bring blankets, lawn chairs and coolers, as long as you don’t have glass or alcohol in the coolers.

The Pork & Brew festival comes next weekend, Friday through Sunday. It’s not free, but prices are less than a lot of other food festivals: $6 for adults, $4 for seniors 65 and older or kids 4-12, and free for little ones 3 and younger.

Yes, the food comes at an extra charge, but that’s normal for food festivals. Vendors will accept cash and credit cards.

Of course, barbecue and beer are the signature offerings, but if those aren’t your cup of tea, you can get burgers, shaved ice and other fair-type foods.

It’s free to listen to live music, browse indoor vendor booths and participate in or watch the pie-eating contests for adults and watermelon-eating contests for kids.

For those of you who prefer to throw your own party, more power to you. We know those can be great times.

Please just be careful of your own safety and considerate of your neighbors with fireworks. To be legal, fireworks set off by non-professionals can’t be louder than a cap gun or fly higher than 10 feet, because fireworks that do those things are more likely to start a fire.

Burning down your neighbor’s isn’t a good way to celebrate. Neither is blowing off your fingers.

Also, please be aware that some people — including your friendly neighborhood Observer staff — have to work Friday morning. Stopping the fireworks at 10 or 11 p.m. so we can sleep would be appreciated.

Please don’t forget that veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder live among us and are regularly affected by those explosions.

We know fireworks are part of the July 4 tradition.

However, if you know your neighbor will be miserable with the bangs and smell of gunpowder, it might be a good idea to talk and work out an arrangement that allows you both to enjoy the holiday. Maybe a gift of noise-canceling headphones or confining the lighting of fireworks to a specific couple of hours would help.

As the final word, remember the price our veterans, service members and their families have paid for the freedom we celebrate this week. Liberty is a precious gift.