Listening to patriotic music and wearing red, white and blue. Eating watermelon and hot dogs. Playing outdoor games and sitting in the grass to watch fireworks. No matter how you like to celebrate Independence Day, you don't have to travel too far for a great time. Rather than traveling to Tampa, St. Petersburg or Orlando, families and residents will be able to enjoy a variety of local events. Some take place this weekend:
• Friendly Kia Fest Main Street Blast, 5-11 p.m. Friday and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday at Sims Park, 5547 Main St., New Port Richey. The event features free concerts, food vendors, arts and crafts, commercial vendors, kids' games, military vehicles, trolley pull contest and a fireworks display Saturday evening. Free admission. Visit nprmainstreet.com/kiafest-main-street-blast-2/ or call (727) 842-8066.
• Connerton's Independence Day Celebration, 5-9 p.m. Saturday, 21100 Fountain Garden Way, Land O'Lakes. This will be an old-fashioned neighborhood party in the New Town community. Free admission and activities, with live music, crafters, bounce houses, food trucks and games. Evening ends with a fireworks display. For details, visit connerton.com.
• Family Fun Day, 2-10 p.m. Sunday, Plantation Palms Golf Club, 23253 Plantation Palms Blvd., Land O'Lakes. A patriotic parade of golf carts and bicycles kicks off at 2 p.m., with prizes awarded to the best decorated. Hot air balloon rides (from 100-150 feet, depending on weather) will be available. Bands will perform from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. There will be a variety of vendors, as well as food and drinks, available; a bounce house; face painting; a balloon artist and various games and activities. Prizes will be raffled. Free admission. Hot air balloon rides are $10 for adults, $5 for kids. Mini golf is $5 per person. Call (813) 996-4653.
• Freedom Celebration Independence Day, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, First United Methodist Church of Hudson, 13123 U.S. 19, Hudson. Includes a free barbecue picnic and a car show with more than 50 cars, as well as music, bounce houses and games. Boy Scout Troop 86 will present the colors. Call (727) 868-6178. hudsonfirstumc.org.
• Lutz 4th of July Celebration, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at U.S. 41 and Lutz Lake Fern Road, Lutz. Streets will be closed for the celebration, which includes vendors and various activities. An Independence Day Run starts at 8 a.m. and includes a choice of a 1-mile run and a 5K. Call (813) 997-2841 for details. Parade starts at 10 a.m., and participants must line up prior to 9 a.m. There's no cost to enter the parade, but registration forms must be received by Saturday; email Edwina Kraemer at [email protected] ("4th of July Parade" in the subject line). Trophies will be awarded. To enter the cake contest, call Karin at (813) 786-8461.
• Sparklebration. Gates open at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 State Road 52, Dade City. Admission is $5; free for ages 12 and younger. Parking is $5 per vehicle. The event includes festival foods, entertainment, contests, a vendor mall, free face painting and balloons, a variety of children's games and activities (unlimited play wristbands for children are $10, pony rides $5 and petting zoo $2), and a fireworks display at 9:15 p.m. Visit pascocountyfair.com or call the fair office at (352) 567-6678.
• Avalon Park West July 4th Celebration, 5 p.m. Tuesday at 5227 Autumn Ridge Drive, Wesley Chapel. The event includes food trucks, bounce houses, vendors, community performances and a bike parade. Fireworks start at 9 p.m. Visit avalonparkwest.com/events/4th-of-july-celebration-2/ or call (813) 783-1515.
• Independence Day Dinner-Dance, 5-8 p.m. Saturday at Brooksville Elks Lodge 2582, 13383 County Line Road, Spring Hill. Tickets are $7 and include a meal of a pulled pork sandwich, coleslaw and potato salad. Music will be provided by the Moses Greyhound Band. For tickets or information, call (352) 799-7148 or (219) 201-7278.
• High Point Community Fourth of July Parade, 9 a.m. Tuesday. The annual parade, sponsored for the first time by the High Point Social Club, is open to the public. It starts at the entrance to High Point, near Cortez Boulevard, and ends at the community center, 12249 Club House Road, High Point. Refreshments will be served after a flag-raising ceremony by American Legion Post 186's color guard. Raffle tickets will be sold to win prizes, and prizes will be given for best decoration in nine categories. Call (352) 596-2397.
• Machine Gun Shoot, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Hernando Sportsman's Club, 16121 Commercial Way, north of Weeki Wachee. Cars, trucks and an assortment of other targets will be destroyed. Machine gun owners 18 and older are welcome to participate. Rifles and pistols also allowed. No tracers or incendiary ammunition will be allowed. Spectators and shooters should bring their own eye and ear protection. Food and refreshments available for purchase. Admission is $2 for spectators, and children ages 14 and younger are free with an adult; $20 for shooters. Call (352) 597-9931.
• Firecracker Smash'm Up, 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Hernando County Fairgrounds, 6436 Broad St., Brooksville. The event includes live music and food. A demolition derby will start at 7 p.m., and a fireworks show will begin at 9:30 p.m. Parking is $5. Admission for the demolition derby is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 4 to 12 and free for children ages 3 and younger. Visit hernandocountyfair.com or call (352) 796-4552.
• July 4 Celebration, 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Salishan Gracious Retirement Living, 191 Astaire Lane, Spring Hill. The event includes a barbecue buffet, with entertainment provided by Barry Thomas starting at 2 p.m. Tours of the community will be available. There's no cost, but reservations are requested. RSVP to (352) 263-2300.
• July 4th at the Brooksville Common, 5-8 p.m. Tuesday at the common, next to First United Methodist Church, 109 S Broad St., Brooksville. The evening of music will feature singer-songwriter and guitarist Bill Creel. Dell O. Barnes Sr. and Stephanie Barnett Sager will also perform. Those attending should bring lawn chairs. Free admission. There will be no First Friday event in July at the Common. Call (352) 263-5766.
• Patriotic Family Fun Day, 4-8 p.m. Sunday, Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, 7200 County Road 603, Bushnell. A hometown festival with family-style activities features ongoing croquet, badminton, horseshoes and cornhole games; hand-cranked ice cream; picnic foods and a pet parade. Live music by the Barking Dogs band. Free admission. Call (352) 793-4781.
• Patriotic Evening: Fourth of July Celebration, 6 to 10 p.m. Monday, Liberty Park, 286 N Apopka Ave., Inverness. The old-fashioned hometown festival includes music by Come Back Alice, food trucks, entertainment and a lakeside fireworks extravaganza. Free admission and parking. Call (352) 726-2611.