TAMPA — This Fourth of July weekend, downtown Tampa's Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park will be filled with the sounds of jazz, fireworks will fly over the Channelside Bay Plaza and Yacht Starship's Pirate Water Taxi will provide a new way to sail into the celebrations.
For the first year since its start in 2012, Tampa Red, White and Blues Festival Jazz in July has expanded from an adult-only cocktail party, to a family-friendly event.
"I want families to be able to enjoy the weekend together," said Tashima Johnson, festival organizer and co-founder of Jazz in July.
On Sunday, kite-flying, American flag face painting and do-it-yourself artwork are all new activities geared toward that goal.
"We are allowing families the opportunity to share things they grew up on, like flying kites," Johnson said.
Jazz, which was founded in the United States, will be performed, along with an apple pie eating contest, an all-American food court, vendors, exhibits, giveaways and best-dressed competitions. Plus, there will be chances to give back with the OneBlood bloodmobile on site and retired greyhounds up for adoption.
"I think fireworks is just not enough to celebrate one's culture," Johnson said. "An event that brings people together and allows them to engage and embodies what their culture is all about, everyone wants that."
The event not only celebrates Independence Day, but the city of Tampa as well.
"We chose to do it on the Riverwalk to experience what the city has to offer," Johnson said.
Another addition to the Riverwalk this Fourth of July is the newly opened Doyle Carlton segment extension near the Straz Center.
A free outdoor photography exhibit commissioned by the performing arts center, "Who We Are: Faces of Tampa Bay," featuring the work of Daniel Chauche, will be on display.
On the opposite end of the Riverwalk, in front of the Tampa Convention Center, the Pirate Water Taxi will be docked for guests to hop aboard for a fireworks cruise.
The one-hour cruise will travel around Harbour Island before docking near Channelside to provide a VIP view of the fireworks.
Yacht Starship also offers fireworks cruises with a buffet, open bar, DJ and dancing.
Those looking to watch the firework display directly from Channelside Bay Plaza will have to get a wristband. There are 2,500 available, first-come, first-served, beginning at 6 p.m. on Monday.
"It's Tampa Bay's largest summer holiday fireworks series," said Channelside Bay Plaza marketing and events manager Darrah Winkler. "The attendance grows each year and we expect over 10,000 people on site for this event."
Winkler hopes to grow next year's event, even more.
Meanwhile, in Ybor City, the Shriners Parade will march down Seventh Avenue beginning at 6 p.m. Monday
"The parade is different every year depending on where we are," said John Massey, director general.
It will feature iconic red fezzes, clowns, minicars, motorcycles and horse patrols.
Contact Arielle Waldman at [email protected]