Most of the country might be smack in the middle of an oppressive heat wave but that doesn't mean you should stay inside around the clock. We've pulled together a few ideas that will make the next week of hot summer nights just a little more bearable.

Most of the country might be smack in the middle of an oppressive heat wave but that doesn't mean you should stay inside around the clock. We've pulled together a few ideas that will make the next week of hot summer nights just a little more bearable.

Setting a soundtrack to Friday night

WHAT Music on MainWHERE Downtown Middletown, W. Main St.WHEN 6 to 9 p.m., FridayCOST FreeINFO www.middletownmainstreet.comMiddletown Main Street, Inc. will host the second "Music on Main" Friday night, featuring music and after hours shopping, and even a little free ice cream to beat the mid-summer heat.

First, stop by Cochran Square. That's where The Splashing Pearls will be set up to play their own brand of quirky, original tunes that includes a trio of ukulele, steel drums and an upright bass. The band tops off their one-of-a-kind sound with vocals by Larkin Salemi and singer-songwriter Peter Scobell's old-fashioned storytelling skills.

Over at the Forest Presbyterian Church parking lot, DJ Jammin' Jeff will be laying down beats and a quick walk back over to W. Main St. is rewarded with outdoor vendors like Faithful Friends and Greyhound Pets of America, who will have a few fuzzy faces in need of new homes. There will even be free ice cream from Coleman's Christmas Tree Farm and Herr's snacks (while supplies last) at Middletown Hardware.

Middletown Main Street also encourages visitors to venture off the streets and into the shops, boutiques and restaurants located downtown, from the jewelry of Nicole J and Femme Fatale to the guitars of C Kuz Guitars. Try a new cupcake flavor (poptarts, anyone?) at Half Baked Patissirie or Irish pub fare at Sully's Irish Pub.

The events are free and held rain or shine. Middletown Main Street is a non-profit organization working with the community to revitalize the downtown district into a thriving cultural, retail destination spot while also maintaining its historic character.

Celebrating a city with fireworks

WHAT Delaware City DayWHERE Battery Park, Clinton St., Delaware CityWHEN 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., SaturdayCOST FreeINFO www.delawarecityday.comSaturday will mark the 34th year of Delaware City's celebration of itself, thanks to Delaware City Day. One of Delaware's worst kept secrets, the day brings in anywhere from 12, 000 to 14,000 people each year, all clamoring for a little post-Independence Day revelry.

It all starts at 10 a.m., when WSTW begins broadcasting and kids' games and activities start. An hour later at 11 a.m., pick a spot for the 33rd Annual Parade, which starts at the intersection of Fifth St. and Clinton St., followed by parade awards at 1:30 p.m. The music kicks up at 12:30 p.m. with the Larry Tucker Band on the main stage. The music plays on when Accolade takes the stage at 6 p.m. at the gazebo. The day also includes "Bingo in the Park" and a see-it-to-believe-it hospital bed race at 2 p.m

The pièce de résistance, though, is what Delaware City unabashedly refers to as "the greatest fireworks ever."

"They really are the best fireworks ever," said event co-chair Beth Konkus, who's been volunteering her time for DCD for six years now. "It's a 40-minute show that's better than any you've ever seen. It even rivals the fireworks of a Disney show."

Konkus added that DCD is completely free, from admission to parking, as long as visitors show up before 5 p.m. After 5 p.m., it will still be free to attend but lots will spring up, asking for a $5 donation to park.

LOOKING FORWARD: Local church carnival setting up

WHAT St. Joseph's Parish CarnivalWHERE St. Joseph's Parish, 371 E. Main St.WHEN 5:30 p.m., Tuesday , July 23 through Saturday, July 27COST FreeINFO (302) 378-5800There's a huge yellow-and-white-striped tent on the front lawn of St. Joseph's Catholic Church and that can only mean one thing: It's time for the church's annual carnival, a five-day event that includes live music every day, rides fit for the state fair, games, activities and enough home-cooked food to feed a small army.

It all starts next Tuesday and you'll know it by the delectable smells wafting through the air. Committee chairperson Dominic Marra said that like previous years, this year's menu will feature something different every single day with a large-scale barbeque –complete with barbeque pork, chicken and brisket as well as corn, potato salad, cole slaw and more. The food is served buffet-style in the Parish Hall nightly from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will cost adults $15. The cost for children is $8 and they have their own belly-filling menu of chicken nuggets, mac-n-cheese, and French fries. The rest of the carnival food includes an Italian night, a Polish night and surf-and-turf.

The live entertainment changes daily as well. Tony Mowen will kick things off Tuesday night, followed by DJ Anita on Wednesday, 3 Sheets Acoustic on Thursday, Runaway Train on Friday and Dysrhythmics on Saturday.

From year to year, the carnival games and rides are consistently the same but there are a few little tweaks this year. For instance, the goldfish game (aim a ball for small bowl to win a goldfish) will feature more opportunities to win because each contestant is getting a whole basket of balls. Marra said new goldfish owners will also have the opportunity to buy small aquariums for $5.

For his part, Marra said that despite all the planning, he still looks forward to the carnival every year.

"It's great to see the kids enjoying the rides and all the camaraderie of all the parishioners," Marra said. "It's just a great few days of family fun."