Fourth of July weekend fun and freebies

The fireworks may be the star of the Fourth of July, but you can start the festivities with the family before nightfall.

The Houston Zoo is helping to jump-start the long holiday weekend with staying open late to help kick it off with Red, White and Zoo tonight from 5 until 8:30 pm. It's part of the Houston Zoo's Cool Night's series every Friday through August 10. Kids can make their own flag and march in a parade with Uncle Sam. If you buy your tickets online, you can save $4 off the price of admission.

If you want to be "free" from the heat, head indoors to catch a movie. At Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, all movies are just $4 all day on the Fourth of July.

If you miss it Monday, you can catch any movie before 2 p.m. any day of the week for just $5. It's the $5 Dollar Days of Summer at the Alamo Drafthouse Mason Road and Vintage Park theaters.

Get your celebration started early by taking the kids to the Houston Children's Museum for Kidpendence Day. They're supplementing all the usual kid fun with a flag-waving parade and a high steppers brass band that'll wind through Kidtropolis.

If you're in the Katy area, head over to Memory Makers on Fifth Street for a free Open House. They'll take free photos of your family decked out in red, white and blue, provide supplies for arts and crafts and cookie decorating. They'll even have a bounce house.

If you just want to take in a traditional fireworks show, our friends at Houston on the Cheap have compiled a list of all the big shows around Houston.