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Independence Day fireworks shows get green light to proceed

A procession of showers throughout Sunday didn't put the damper on fireworks displays around Tampa Bay, as skies cleared in time for the shows to go on.

While at several locations crowds were thinner than in years past — with the day's rain forcing many a backyard barbecue under cover and boaters off the water — the Fourth of July explosions dazzled those who did defy the elements.

For Michelle Barnes, who attended Gulfport's Centennial Celebration with her husband, four children, parents and brother, it was worth the wait.

"It's very family-oriented. It's right on the beach," said Barnes, 41.

In Tampa, the displays near Channelside Drive and Steinbrenner Field were pushed back as rain clouds rolled over from the gulf, but ultimately, the fireworks still launched.

On Clearwater Beach, the rains cleared just in time for sunset — prompting city officials to get out the word that gulf beaches would be prime viewing locations.

"The mayor just told me, 'Can you call and tell people to come here?' The skies are beautiful," said city of Clearwater spokeswoman Joelle Castelli.

Castelli said it would have taken a lot more than a little rain to put out Clearwater's fireworks.

"The weather would have to be extremely bad for us to cancel the show," she said.

The Pier in St. Petersburg posted updates about its fireworks display to its Twitter page and excitedly announced Sunday evening when the clouds began to clear: "Sun is shining. Fireworks on!"

Later, Pier officials posted a victorious, "BOOM."

The fireworks show at Sparklebration at the Pasco County Fairgrounds lucked out, as rain there cleared earlier in the day.

At Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, Sunday's "Red, White & Zoo" event was drenched with rain all morning, leading zookeepers to close some rides and restaurants and postpone an opportunity for children to get their picture taken with a bald eagle.

In Safety Harbor, the parade that spanned Main Street was delayed a few minutes from its 10 a.m. start time but still saw a crowd of about a hundred.

"It went splashingly," said Dave Owen, the chairman of the American Legion honor guard. "We all came in like drowned rats."

Times photographer Lara Cerri contributed to this report.

Independence Day fireworks shows get green light to proceed 07/04/10 [Last modified: Monday, July 5, 2010 1:08pm]

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