Celebration in the sky

‘Fanfares & Fireworks’ returns Saturday to Flavet Field


Published: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 1:35 p.m.

The 20-year tradition that is Gainesville's "Fanfares & Fireworks" returns Saturday with the patriotic pomp of years past.

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The Gainesville Community Band will perform patriotic songs during the fireworks, which are scheduled to go off at 9:40 p.m.

Sun file photo

The family-friendly event held the night before Independence Day will be free as always and offer concessions for those who don’t want to lug coolers out to the University of Florida’s Flavet Field. There also will be plenty of live music and visits from UF mascots Albert and Alberta and Clifford the Big Red Dog.

“Fanfares & Fireworks” returns after being canceled last year due to budget cuts.

Sue Wagner, director of communications for WUFT, which is presenting the event along with WLUF-TV, said the station received complaints after the last year’s cancellation. People “missed the tradition,” so she said she is glad to bring it back.

What makes this year’s celebration even more memorable is UF’s renovated bandshell.

“The venue has changed dramatically,” Wagner said. “It’s much more modern with better sound presentation.”

While “Fanfares & Fireworks” has always been held at Flavet Field, the bandshell was remodeled last summer, offering this year’s celebration a “whole lot better” look.

Another new feature this year: Anyone who wants to hear the patriotic music performed by the Gainesville Community Band that accompanies the fireworks display at 9:40 p.m. can tune in to WUFT 89.1 FM.

“You can see the fireworks almost anywhere on campus,” Wagner says. “They’re shot from Hume Field, so you can see them from any parking garage, some of the hotels open their roofs, so we made the option to be able to listen on the radio while watching.”

Musical groups, including the 6th Street Rhythm and Blues Review, and Hartley Leacock and the Collect Format Band, will play for about 45 minutes each, beginning at 7:45 p.m. until the fireworks begin. The Gainesville Community Band, under the direction of Gerald Poe, will play patriotic songs such as “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the fireworks display until the finale hits the skies at around 10 p.m. WRUF/WUFT Sports Director Steve Russell and Friends of Five Board Member Ilene Silverman-Budd will serve as emcees for the evening. The nearly $30,000 “Fanfares & Fireworks” celebration is sponsored by the University of Florida and its public radio and television stations, as well as the City of Gainesville, AvMed Health Plans and the University Athletic Association.

Though Saturday’s celebration officially starts at 7 p.m., some people arrive earlier to get their blankets and picnics set up, Wagner says. Another reason to arrive early: LifeSouth Blood Center will be on site accepting donations.

For safety reason, no alcohol or sparklers are allowed at the celebration, and dogs are asked to be left at home as they are easily spooked by the fireworks.

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