BUFFALO, NY - Independence Day 2017 – weather wise -- will go down in the annals of Western New York as one of the finest in recent memory.

A picture perfect, sun splashed day, allowing anyone to celebrate the Fourth of July, in pretty much any fashion they chose.

That is the point, after all, of independence.

“The Fourth of July, to me, is about freedom," said Hammer Smith, as he prepared to join family and friends at a picnic for about 80 people at Veterans Park in Tonawanda.

Nearby, another celebration was more about tradition with a gathering which began 30 years ago with a small, core group of friends, and which continues to this day, only on a much larger scale.

“It’s just gotten bigger and it all started with just a few people who have been friends since high school,” said Debbie Patterson, one of the founders of the annual picnic, which has at times grown to more than 80 attendees.

“Now our kids have their own kids and they’re all here too,” added Cathy Knight, who was also among those who started the event. “We hope it’s a tradition that continues and that our kids will carry it on,” Knight said.

Across River Road, in Isle View Park, the Girard clan gathered in what is becoming an annual tradition which attracts relatives from as far away as Rochester.

“There’s no place I'd rather be than right here, right now, with my family," said Matthew Girard of Williamsville. “It’s just such a great thing. We’ll spend the day here, have some food and enjoy each other’s company, then we’ll all go to UB tonight for the Fireworks."

"I think on a day like today we also need to remember the people that died for our country, and their loved ones too,” said Smith.

His point is perhaps rooted in an old adage; that freedom is not free.

And that at times there is a price to be paid, to enjoy a day like Tuesday.