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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2012 8 years ago

Josh Garrick: Culture Worthy of Your Calendar

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The best 4th of July celebrations across the state.
by: Josh Garrick Columnist

Whether you plan to stay close to home or enjoy the recently-reduced gas prices by getting in the car and finding your own way to feel patriotic on our country’s birthday, July 4 always sends us out looking for fireworks.

In Florida — thanks to our abundance of theme parks — we know fireworks, and we know how to celebrate summer — our summer being a little longer than most. So, wherever you find yourself in Florida, you’re never too far from a great fireworks show. I’ve pulled together a selection of the more impressive fireworks displays from around our Sunshine State, so let’s pack the picnic basket and go outside and enjoy this noisy, beautiful, patriotic tradition. Note: Times are listed where specifically announced. Where no time is listed, fireworks begin shortly after sundown.

Cocoa: Cocoa’s Riverfront Independence Day is built around the tradition of a free Symphony Under the Stars by the Brevard Symphony Orchestra. At the Cocoa Riverfront Park, guests experience an evening of patriotic and Pops classics while viewing the fireworks display presented by the cities of Cocoa and Rockledge. It’s a fun-filled day for families to enjoy the talents of their community while saluting our great nation. With activities throughout the day, the BSO Concert begins at 8 p.m. Visit CocoaFL.org

Coconut Grove: Beautiful Peacock Park sets the stage as Coconut Grove celebrates our nation’s independence with a 4th of July Fireworks Celebration from 4-10 p.m. One of Miami’s most picturesque settings features free admission for everyone, plus music, food and a spectacular fireworks display from the shoreline of Biscayne Bay. For little ones, a Kids Adventure Park features slides, rides, bounce houses and more. Visit coconutgrovechamber.com

Jacksonville: One of Florida’s biggest fireworks celebrations lights up the St. Johns River with fireworks choreographed to recorded (and appropriately patriotic) music. Jacksonville’s Fireworks Spectacular promises to be so big that it will light up “all of downtown and both sides of the river.” Visit makeascenedowntown.com

Mexico Beach: The city says Happy Birthday, America, with its annual Best Blast on the Beach, a day filled with family, friends and hometown fun. And it starts off early with the annual Sandy Shoe 5K Run/Walk. Then it’s time for young anglers to sink their lines for the annual kid’s fishing tournament. At 8:30 p.m., some old-time R&R introduces the Best Blast on the Beach Fireworks Show. Call 1-888-723-2546 or visit mexico-beach.com

Mount Dora: This July 4 Independence Day Celebration begins early with a parade at 10 a.m. through the downtown of the beautiful town renowned for its shops and antique dealers. Their Grand Celebration continues with food, live music and fireworks at 9 p.m. Call 352-267-2879 or visit mtdora.com

Orlando: While all of Orlando’s theme-parks have special fireworks displays scheduled for July 4, the free fireworks in Orlando may be found downtown at the recently refurbished and enhanced Fountain at Lake Eola. The invitation for this “patriotic celebration of fun, food and fanfare” comes from the popular Mayor Buddy Dyer, who may be seeing this fireworks display as a celebration of having been recently elected mayor of the City Beautiful for the fourth time. And since Orlando knows fireworks, this is the city with the most specific time. Orlando’s fireworks begin at 9:20 p.m. Visit cityoforlando.net

St. Petersburg: Beginning at noon with Bus Stop, a classic rock band, music will play throughout the day on the Pier in St. Pete. Children’s activities are offered and the Dance Heads will be on-hand to show you how to be a dance star in your own video. Fireworks begin at 9 p.m. over the Gulf in St. Pete Beach during the St. Pete Pier 4th of July Extravaganza. Visit st.petepier.com

The Florida Keys: You’ll be checking your mile markers as each of the several (larger) islands of the Florida Keys present their own version of our nation’s birthday party. Visit fla-keys.com

Key Largo begins with their 37th Annual 4th of July Parade called “America: Yesterday, Today and Forever.” The fireworks show, over the perfect nighttime mirror-like surface of Blackwater Sound, provides a beautifully unique viewing experience. The show takes place on the bay front in Key Largo at 10 p.m. around mile marker (MM) 104 bayside. Call 305-394-3736.

Islamorada: Founders Park at MM 87 on Plantation Key is the site of Islamorada’s old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration. Entertainment and activities for kids, teens, parents @@and [email protected]@ highlight the event from 6-9:30 p.m. when the fireworks begin. Guests at participating resorts may receive admission-free wristbands or a $10 admission fee for non-residents applies.

Big Pine & the Lower Keys’ 4th of July fireworks are hosted by the Rotary Club at Sugarloaf Airport at MM 17 bayside on Sugarloaf Key. Live music and food accompany games and activities for kids and adults with an expanded fireworks show at 9 p.m. Admission is free with gates opening at 5 p.m. Call 305-872-2411.

Marathon: For one of the Keys' largest (and longest) fireworks displays, families gather for a full day of activities in Marathon. A patriotic parade begins at 10:30 a.m. from Marathon High School (MM 50 ocean-side) to free-admission Sombrero Beach, where the celebration features food, drink and kids' crafts and entertainment, all capped off after dark with fireworks. Marathon, the “boating destination of the Keys,” hosts hundreds of boats in front of the beach for a preferred view of the festivities. Call 305-743-5417 or visit floridakeysmarathon.com

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