If observing the Fourth of July means fireworks, hot dogs, watermelon seed-spitting contests and the sound of patriotic music, head to North Pinellas on Sunday. ≤ Everything Americana will be going on, and much of it begins early.
Picnic in the Park in Tarpon Springs
From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., the city of Tarpon Springs will host its third Patriotic Picnic in the Park, complete with free hot dogs, popcorn and snow cones.
"We had a big turnout last year," said Duffy Smith, 43, recreation specialist II.
"It's the second year in a row that Waste Management has sponsored it for us. There will be old-fashioned Americana games, sack races, watermelon seed-spitting, bubble-gum blowing and water-balloon launching and all those kinds of fun things."
Besides food and games, adults and children with a parent, can sign up that day for free outrigger rides in the bayou.
Patriotic parade in Safety Harbor
The Fourth of July celebration begins with a Main Street parade sponsored by American Legion Post 238, the American Legion Auxiliary Unit and Sons of the American Legion.
While jeeps, Humvees and other military vehicles will roll down the road, so will classic American cars like Corvettes. The American Legion Honor Guard with commanders from the state, district and local level will attend. The Legion Riders and the Blue Knights will ride motorcycles in the celebration. Boy Scout Troop 43, Girl Scout Troop 973 and Cub Scout Pack 135 will, too.
Members from Safety Harbor's VFW Post 10093 will take their place in the moving memorial, as will Safety Harbor officials, a representative from the Pinellas County Commission and U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis.
New to this year's parade, the Shriners will join in the fun and create some of their own. And to make the parade a true family affair, children are invited to decorate their bikes, wagons or dogs and walk at the end of the parade. It's a community affair with the American Legion's Auxiliary putting in all the legwork to make it a success.
"Last year's parade was hugely successful," said auxiliary president Marge Reed. "This year we've had more than 40 applications to join in the parade."
Also helping organize the festivities was Ruth Burgess, auxiliary vice president and parade committee chair.
"Ruth has worked so hard and has done a phenomenal job for a second year in a row," Reed said. "We love Safety Harbor and thought this would be a good community service event and promote the American Legion at the same time."
Parking on the streets is free and for the parade free parking will also be available at the Safety Harbor Museum.
Music and fireworks in Clearwater
Downtown Clearwater will once again celebrate with music and fireworks at Coachman Park.
"It's always been a very successful and heavily attended event," said Brian Craig, events coordinator for the city.
Naturally, the fireworks are a major draw at the event, but so is the music of John, Mary K and Paul Wilson, who will perform with the Mostly Pops Orchestra at 7:30 p.m.
Each year people travel from around the Tampa Bay area for the event.
"We can't say how many people come because people fill the waterfront to watch from the Seminole Boat docks to anywhere along the water," Craig said. "There may be 15,000 people in the park, but 5,000 south of the gate and another 5,000 anywhere along the water. It's a unique event."
And while there is no admission fee, there are still plenty of ways to spend a few American presidents. Drinks and eats at the food court are available and for children, there will inflatables bouncing, trampoline jumping and rock-climbing walls.
"The event will be a bit new this year even for people who have been coming for years," Craig said.
The difference is due to an almost completed boat slip project, a new sidewalk and landscaping upgrades along the waterfront.