Red, white and blue. Hot dogs, watermelons and soft drinks. Fireworks. • All are part of what many consider a perfect family Fourth of July celebration. • As America marks the 234th anniversary of its independence this weekend, there will be a variety of entertainment and events on the North Suncoast. • In Hernando County, an ethnic celebration Saturday is sponsored by the Philippine-American Association in Spring Hill. • Sunday offerings include a Fourth of July Parade at High Point and a Machine Gun Shoot north of Weeki Wachee at the Hernando Sportsman's Club.
For a spectacular fireworks show, spectators will have to leave the county. The Freedom Fest that was held east of Brooksville the past couple of years is not taking place this year.
One of the biggest fireworks shows will be in Inverness on Saturday at the annual Patriotic Evening at Liberty and Wallace Brooks parks along Lake Henderson near downtown.
The event is from 5 to 10 p.m., with opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. at Liberty Park. Entertainment with the Neon Truckers, featuring 2009 "Cooter Idol" winner Ricky Mitchell, will follow at 7:30 p.m.
Activities will be at both parks, which border Lake Henderson and are joined by the Liberty Trail Boardwalk that extends across a cove of the lake.
Billed as an "Old-Fashioned Hometown Festival and Fireworks Extravaganza," the event will include more than 20 nonprofit organizations with booths, said David Pieklik, assistant director of satellite parks for Inverness Parks and Recreation. There will be concessionaires with festival foods, inflatables, rock climbing, a bounce house, temporary tattoos and numerous other activities for children.
And fireworks. The pyrotechnic display will begin about 9:20 p.m. and include 1,200 shells, lasting about 25 minutes, Pieklik said.
"It's a very impressive sight to see. There will be a lot of 'oohs' and 'aahs,' " he said.
Pieklik said the fireworks will be launched from an adjacent landowner's property. It will be visible from both parks, but "you can actually see the show several miles away," he said.
Liberty Park is the main venue for events; Wallace Brooks will offer more of a low-key setting, although both parks are expected to draw large crowds, Pieklik said. Liberty is off N Apopka Avenue just past the Withlacoochee State Trail; Wallace Brooks is off Dampier Street.
Admission and parking are free. Visitors are encouraged to bring blankets or beach chairs or just sit on the grass.
"We expect a really strong turnout, rain or shine," Pieklik said. "Hopefully, the weather will be cooperative. But if not, everyone will still have fun."
Lots of ways to celebrate
Here's a rundown of Independence Day celebrations and related events in Hernando, Pasco and Citrus counties:
• Evening of Storytelling with Jerry Cowling, 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Hill House Bed and Breakfast, 406 E Liberty St., Brooksville. Cowling, a local author and storyteller, will salute lesser-known patriots of the American Revolutionary War, with short biographical sketches of generals, spies, flagmakers and politicians. Refreshments will be served. Free. (352) 345-4466.
• Hernando County Philippine-American Association's Independence Day Dinner, Show and Dance, 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, VFW Post 10209, 14736 Edward R. Noll Drive, Spring Hill. The menu includes roast pork, spare ribs, roast chicken, lumpia, pancit (noodles), vegetables and desserts. Tickets are $15 for members, $18 for nonmembers, $10 for children ages 6 to 15 and free for ages 5 and younger. Call (352) 848-1031, (352) 666-5381 or (352) 397-9730.
• Regency Oaks Civic Association's annual Independence Day Barbecue, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the clubhouse, 4445 Breakwater Blvd., Spring Hill. Hot dogs will be $1.50, hamburgers $2.50, and soda and water 50 cents each. Guests should bring side dishes and beverages. The association will provide ice, coffee and dessert. DJ Rich will play music from the 1950s and '60s. Admission is $3; tickets are limited and should be purchased in advance. Call (352) 597-1405, (352) 596-9213 or (352) 597-2988.
• Uncle Sam Scallop Jam, 3 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Kings Bay Park, Citrus Avenue, Crystal River. Includes four live bands, a magician, food and craft vendors, and a fireworks display. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Crystal River. Admission is $5. Call (352) 417-1160 or visit scallopjam.com.
• Aripeka Elks Lodge 2520 Independence Day Celebration, Saturday at 9135 Denton Ave., Hudson. Music with Jim and Jim from 3 to 7 p.m., with karaoke with Annie starting at 7 p.m. Dinner served at 4 p.m., which includes baked chicken, potato salad and baked beans. Tickets are $8, available at the bar and the door. Call (727) 863-2520.
• High Point Fourth of July Parade, 9 a.m. Sunday. Starts at 8:30 a.m. at the High Point bus stop near Cortez Boulevard, proceeds down High Point Boulevard to Club House Road, and ends at the community center. Call (352) 596-6006.
• Machine Gun Shoot, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Hernando Sportsman's Club, 16121 Commercial Way, north of Weeki Wachee (91/2 miles north of Cortez Boulevard), in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area. Five cars will be destroyed, along with an assortment of other targets. More than 100 machine guns are expected. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. Spectator admission is $2; children younger than 15 are admitted free but must be accompanied by an adult. Shooters with their own machine guns can pay $20 to participate. Vendor spaces are available for $20. Call (352) 597-9931 or visit hernandosportsmansclub.com.
• VFW Post 8713 Fourth of July Service, 11 a.m. Sunday, 1681 E Jefferson St., Brooksville. A cookout will follow, with ribs, chicken and side dishes. The cost is $5. There will be raffles and music. Call (352) 796-4449.
• VFW Post 8681 Independence Day Celebration, Sunday, 18940 Drayton St. at County Line Road, Shady Hills. A ceremony will begin at 11 a.m., followed by a pig roast from noon to 4 p.m. Music will be provided by Short Notice from 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $6.50. Call (727) 856-1860.
• Sparklebration, 4 p.m. Sunday, Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 State Road 52, Dade City. Features watermelon- and hot dog-eating contests, pony rides and fireworks. Entertainment by Amazing Animals Around the World, magician Steven Marcus, and Kenn E. Grube with his Elvis on Tour performance. The Dennis Lee Show will begin at 8 p.m. on the outdoor stage, followed by fireworks about 9:15 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults, free for children 10 and younger. Parking is $5. Bring lawn chairs and blankets for seating. Concessions available. Visit sparklebration.com or call (352) 567-6678.