It’s arguably the best holiday of all. It comes just after the longest day of the year, so, at the very least, it’s the holiday with the most daylight. It features whiz bang pynotechnics, fireflies, and absolutely no pressure to give gifts. Its signature foods — grilled hot dogs, potato salad, and ice cream cones — require no fuss whatsoever.

This year, however, many workers are going to find it hard to properly luxuriate in the freedom of the summer’s signature holiday.

This year the 4th of July falls on a Tuesday, and that leaves Monday, July 3, in holiday limbo. The major stock exchanges are open for half a day, closing at 1 p.m., while some commodity exchanges are closing at noon, and most bond markets are closing at 2 p.m. The Post Office is open, as are banks. Many offices are open, with most giving employees the option of taking July 3 as a vacation day.

Barbara Cardasco of the Employers Association of New Jersey says that her organization conducted a small poll — 100 questionnaires sent out, 25 returned — to find out how many companies are going to remain open. “Thirty-six percent have July 3 as a scheduled holiday, 64 percent don’t,” she reports, adding, “I don’t know what kind of companies they are, whether or not they’re manufacturing.” In addition to flat-out closing, another 20 percent of companies have put July 3 on their menu of floating holidays this year, giving employees the option of, say, taking that day off and working on Columbus Day or Good Friday.

Calls to Princeton area companies did not turn up too much additional information, as many refused to comment. But it appears that companies that work in synch with the financial markets will be open. That is the case at big companies — Merrill Lynch will be open — as well as at smaller companies — ExpertPlan, for example.

Beyond that, it appears that smaller companies are taking the day off, while larger companies will be open, but probably operating at considerably less than full strength. The Princeton Regional Chamber will be closed, but Mathematica will be open.

The one industry where most workers will indeed have a glorious 4th is communications. Red Wolf Design, Oxford Communications, Princeton Communications, and Gillespie are all going for a four-day week-end.

“It wouldn’t be economically feasible for us to be open,” says Sue Adams of Princeton Communications. “We decided to stay as long as we have to on Friday night to make sure that all of Monday’s work is done before we leave.”

A similar strategy is in place here at U.S. 1 Newspaper, where the goal is to get the paper ready for the printer by the end of the day on Friday, June 30, and to pull together any loose ends on Saturday so that everyone can be off on July 3 and July 4. The newspaper’s printer, with offices in Philadelphia, will be open straight through, though, giving newspapers the option of responding to breaking news changes right through the 4th.

Meanwhile, the young woman who answered the phone at Gillespie expressed the sentiment of all who will be liberated to enjoy the long summer week-end: “I just found out myself today, so I’m happy!”

So this year’s schedule is a wrap — leaving some employees feeling liberated and others cheated. It will be easier in 2009, when the 4th of July falls on a Saturday, and, thanks to Public Law 86-362, passed in 1959, the preceding Friday is a legal holiday.

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