Fireworks bursting out near and far to celebrate the 4th

Julia Jones, 5, spins a glow stick during a fireworks display in Alachua on July 4, 2011.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer/file
Published: Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 29, 2012 at 8:05 p.m.

It's been a week of breaking out the galoshes and hiding under umbrellas, but there's one thing Debby can't put a damper on: the red, white and blue.

Central Florida residents ready to venture back outside will be treated to Fourth of July celebrations across the region.

Gainesville's own Fanfares & Fireworks celebration returns after a year's hiatus, featuring performances from local bands and an evening fireworks show on July 3 at the University of Florida campus.

Local towns like Alachua, Micanopy and Palatka are offering their own festivities on the holiday itself, hosting everything from parades to a fish fry to celebrate America.

Those looking for a bit of an adventure can drive a little farther for some spectacular shows in St. Augustine and Jacksonville. In Orlando, the new LEGOLAND Florida theme park will host its first Independence Day event called Red, Brick & Boom, featuring 3-D glasses that turn normal fireworks into bursting LEGO bricks.

Fourth of July cancellations have become a sad reality in past years, with local towns facing economic difficulties. However, that has only encouraged some towns to do everything they can to show their patriotism.

Last year, Lake Butler, a town of about 2,000, had between 4,000 and 5,000 people come to watch fireworks shoot over the lake, an event sponsored by the Rotary Club. This year, the town is ready to celebrate, with no plans to let Debby's rains wash out their events.

"We think we'll be alright by next Wednesday," Larry Clyatt, president of the Lake Butler Rotary Club said. "It's a celebration for our county and our county seat. We invite the surrounding communities to come out and join us, if they can."

Here's a list of Independence Day events that are worth braving the storm:

Fanfares & Fireworks

When: 7 p.m. July 3

Where: Flavet Field at the University of Florida, Gainesville

Info: Returning after a year off, Gainesville's Fourth of July celebration starts at 7 p.m., with entertainment from rock group Mr. Ainsworth, the Gainesville Community Band and the Richy Stano and Shane Moore Duo. Fireworks will begin at 9:40 p.m.

"Largest Small Town Fireworks Display in America"

When: 3 to 10 p.m. July 4

Where: Hal Brady Recreation Complex, 14300 NW 146th Terrace, Alachua

Info: There will be plenty of entertainment for the kids starting at 3 p.m., including a petting zoo, bounce houses and water slides. Adults can enjoy vendors, bingo contests, a rib-eating contest and live musical entertainment. Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m.

"Our Country Day"

When: 8 a.m. to dusk July 4

Where: Keystone Beach Park, 565 S. Lawrence Blvd., Keystone Heights

Info: The event begins with a 5K marathon at 8 a.m. There will be arts and crafts, live music, food and beverage vendors from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. around City Hall. At 11 a.m., a parade will start, with fireworks planned for dusk at Keystone Beach Park.

Cost: A $1 armband is required for the fireworks, available at City Hall while supplies last.

Lake Butler Fourth of July Celebration

When: 3:30 a.m. to dusk July 4

Where: Lakeside Park, Lake Avenue at Northwest Third Street, Lake Butler

Info: The celebration kicks off with a Big Bass Fishing Tournament at 3:30 a.m. The event also features a one-mile Family Fun Run at 7 a.m. and a 5K at 8 a.m. Starting at 11 a.m., there will be vendors, karaoke and music. For kids there will be water rides, a bounce house and train rides starting at noon. Fireworks begin at dusk.

Lake Santa Fe Pontoon Boat Parade

When: 11 a.m. July 4

Where: Santa Fe Lake Park, Northeast State Road 26, Melrose

Info: The boat parade will begin at 11 a.m. near the Alachua County boat ramp. It will circumnavigate Lake Santa Fe, Little Lake Santa Fe and Melrose Bay counterclockwise.

Micanopy Independence Day Celebration

When: 11 a.m. to dusk July 4

Where: Micanopy Ball Park, 352 NW Seventh Terrace, Micanopy

Info: The parade starts at 11 a.m. along Cholokka Boulevard. Immediately following is a fish fry at the Micanopy Museum, $10 for adults and $5 for children. Food and games will be held at the ballpark from 5 to 8:30 p.m., with fireworks at dusk.

Williston Independence Day Festival

When: 5 p.m. to dusk July 3

Where: Horseman's Park, 803 SW 19th Ave., Williston

Info: The parade starts down Noble Avenue at 5 p.m. Festivities will pick up at Horseman's Park at 6 p.m., with free rides for children and food and craft vendors. A musical performance from the Shane Wooten Band starts at 7 p.m., with fireworks at dusk.

Jacksonville Fourth of July Celebration

When: 9:45 p.m. July 4

Where: The Jacksonville Landing, 2 Independent Drive West, Jacksonville

Info: The fireworks show, choreographed to a patriotic soundtrack, can be viewed from the Northbank and Southbank of the St. Johns River. Two barges will be set up: one near the Jacksonville Landing and the other behind the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, 225 E. Coastline Drive.

Fireworks Over the Matanzas

When: 6 to 10 p.m. July 4

Where: Plaza de la Constitución, 75 King St., St. Augustine

Info: The All Star Orchestra will play a two-hour show featuring big band, swing and patriotic favorites starting at 6 p.m. at the Plaza de la Constitución. Fireworks will begin over the Matanzas Bay at 9:30 p.m., choreographed to a soundtrack of popular music.

Fireworks at the Fountain, downtown Orlando

When: 4 to 10 p.m. July 4

Where: Lake Eola

Info: This is the granddaddy of Central Florida fireworks events. Thousands jam the streets around the downtown lake to take in vendors and entertainment beginning late in the afternoon and stick around for one of Central Florida's largest fireworks displays at 9:20 p.m. (407-246-3104)

Red, Brick & Boom

When: 9 p.m. July 4 to July 7

Where: Legoland Florida, Orlando

Info: Legoland Florida's first Independence Day Celebration features 3-D glasses that turn fireworks into exploding bricks. Fireworks will be held each night from July 4 to July 7, with an American celebration on July 4.

Walt Disney World Fourth of July

When: 9 p.m. July 3 to 10 p.m. July 4

Where: Walt Disney World Resorts, Lake Buena Vista

Info: The resort will host a variety of events to celebrate the holiday. For those who like to begin early, “Disney's Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky” will be presented on July 3 at 9 p.m. at Magic Kingdom. The show, paying homage to America's forefathers, also will take place on July 4 at 9 p.m. At Hollywood Studios, Independence Day will get a rock and roll twist with the new “Rockin' 4th of July Celebration” on July 4 at 9:45 p.m. Fireworks, lighting and special effects will be accompanied by a journey through each region's contribution to rock and roll by band Mulch, Sweat, and Shears. Epcot will add “The Heartbeat of Freedom,” a pyrotechnic and laser light show with traditional American themes to their daily “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” show at 10 p.m. The show takes place at World Showcase Lagoon and tells the story of our planet's past, present and future.

Busch Gardens Fourth of July Celebration

When: 9 p.m. July 2-4

Where: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Tampa

Info: Each night, fireworks will burst over SheiKra. The Kinetix show will start at 9 p.m., featuring acrobats and colorful dancers at Gwazi Field. The fireworks begin directly after.

Wild Adventures July 4th Celebration

When: 11 a.m. July 4

Where: Wild Adventures Theme Park, Valdosta, Ga.

Info: The theme park has 18 activities and entertainment events scheduled throughout the day, ending in the largest fireworks display in South Georgia and North Florida. There will be performances by comedy stunt magician Wild Willie and Georgia's Dance Explosion. Guests also can participate in hot dog and watermelon eating contests. Fireworks begin at 9 p.m. From July 1 to July 8, all active or retired military, disabled veterans and reservists receive free park admission with a valid U.S. military ID.

Staff writer Rick Allen contributed to this report.

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